Moving towards remote identity verification

Posted by Martin Lazarevic on 2021-06-09

With the combined factors of rapid technological advancement and the pandemic affecting many industries, identity verification and screening has not been immune. As with many processes, identity verification and screening is being thrust into the digital world. It has become a remote process due to the limitations in place during the pandemic, but also due to a shift in customer expectations and demands.

The challenge for many of these digital processes is to balance the need to provide seamless remote experiences for their customers whilst ensuring data security and meeting compliance obligations. This trade-off between delivering compliance and security while still providing speed and convenience to customers is one that will be measured differently for each business depending on their respective risk/reward ratio.

There are five primary factors affecting the uptake of remote identity verification.

1. Increase in money laundering and fraudulent transactions

The pandemic has seen significant growth in fraudulent transactions and money laundering due to a variety of factors, one factor being a rapid increase in online transactions. Fraudsters and criminal gangs have exploited the uncertainty and chaos of the pandemic to capitalise on insecure online transactions and to trick vulnerable people into fraud scams, costing millions to economies around the world.

The use of remote identity verification will assist businesses in protecting against and minimising this risk. Implementing remote identity verification enables businesses to put in safeguards at vital times to ensure they are dealing with the right person and meet their compliance requirements. Businesses in industries that are particularly vulnerable to fraud, such as financial institutions, may find that these processes need to be further tightened or reviewed during the pandemic.

2. Shifting customer expectations

Customer expectations have been shifting for decades now, with growing expectations that products and services are available online, accessible anywhere and anytime. This expectation has been further enhanced by the pandemic, as services were mandatorily shifted online in most nations.

Customer service, onboarding and ongoing transactions were processes that became compulsorily digital for a majority of businesses. Remote identity verification was therefore vital as businesses employed it to confirm transactions and ensure conversations were occurring with the right customer. This affected all interactions, from simple customer service enquiries to more in-depth onboarding processes.

New financial technology companies and other start-ups are also raising the bar for delivering efficient and seamless online services to clients, which has helped to shift customer expectations and put pressure on traditional companies to up their game.

Identity verification is no different. Innovators in the field, such as National Crime Check, have ensured that identity verification is now becoming a remote, secure and seamless process for clients. Mandatory face-to-face verification will soon be a distant memory for many businesses.

3. Existing digital capabilities

Institutions that are already digitally-enabled and have maximised their technological capabilities will be best placed to meet customer needs going forward.

Implementing remote identity verification will take an investment in resources, time and motivation. Businesses that are already largely on board with digital transformation are the ones that will successfully implement remote identity verification and have their priorities in order to meet customer needs while maintaining security and data protection.

Many businesses may even already have existing remote identity verification processes in place, but the pandemic has shone new light on all digital processes and it’s therefore vital for these processes to be regularly reviewed and updated.

4. Consideration of security, privacy and compliance requirements

While customers want the ease and speed of new digital processes, they also want to know the correct level of security is in place to protect their account details and their identity.

Any implementation of remote identity verification should therefore include a careful and thorough consideration of all security, anti-fraud, data privacy and compliance requirements, with the safety of the customer’s data and account being of paramount concern. This is particularly important when using an external vendor to provide certain capabilities.

Some of the issues to consider are:

  • whether the identity verification solution can be accessed across multiple channels (online, mobile, call centre, face-to-face)

  • whether the solution supports identity verification in all the countries and states you conduct business

  • whether the solution requires any manual quality assurance and checking or are these included in the solution

  • whether the solution eliminates paper altogether while also capturing consent and audit trails electronically

  • whether the result of the identity verification is legally enforceable and meets compliance requirements, and

  • whether the solution is secure at all times, e.g. whether the vendor secures all infrastructure, devices and apps against cyber attacks and other fraudulent activities.

5. Certain industries will enjoy greater benefits

An industry that will clearly need to implement remote identity verification is the financial services industry - from onboarding new customers to verifying ongoing transactions, financial services are particularly vulnerable to fraudsters and other nefarious activities. Many financial institutions will already have remote identity verification in place, but as mentioned previously, it’s always a good time to review and tighten these processes.

Other industries that will particularly benefit from remote identity verification are:

  • Government agencies - providing ease of access to government benefits and services enables increased accessibility, efficiency and lower resource costs, however many of these services are highly confidential and susceptible to fraud. They therefore require extremely secure remote identity verification processes.

  • Healthcare providers - telehealth became vital during the pandemic as it enabled patients and doctors to meet virtually, reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19. Due to the level of confidentiality of these discussions, identity verification is vital in order to establish trust on both sides and confirm that doctors are speaking to the right patient.

  • Online education - verification of student identities is important in the successful implementation of e-learning, particularly in exam situations but also generally in classes to avoid any inappropriate attendees. Verifications such as biometric user verification and keystroke recognition (behavioural biometrics) can assist in identifying the students.

  • Remote hiring - as face-to-face interviews took a turn for the impossible during the pandemic, remote hiring became a common process to engage in. Remote hiring creates increased vulnerability to forged documentation and fake identities or certifications hence remote identity verification, particularly digital biometric identity verification, becomes a necessary step in onboarding.

Summary

Remote identity verification is undoubtedly the way of the future. As products and services move online, so do the processes that are required to support these products and services. Businesses need to strike a balance in meeting customer needs, maintaining their compliance, investing in the right digital solution, all while ensuring data security.

National Crime Check is experienced in providing remote identity verification solutions and we can assist you with the assessment of your identity verification needs. Contact us today to have a chat!

Martin Lazarevic
General Manager
National Crime Check