From Traditional to Revolutionary: The Evolution of Customer Verification Methods

Robert MacDonald

With the rise of two-factor authentication and age verification, we’re arming businesses with advanced tools to shield privacy and build confidence. This article will explore the evolution of customer and verification solutions, exploring their ins and outs and eyeing future trends.
Key Takeaways:

  • Adopting New Verification Methods: Traditional ways of verifying customers are becoming less effective. Updated techniques such as identity verification, two-factor authentication, biometrics, and AI can help protect businesses from fraud.
  • Regulations and Compliance are Crucial: Keeping up with necessary legal and regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, KYC, and AML, is not just good practice—it’s a requirement. It helps maintain trust with customers and avoid costly penalties.
  • Balancing Security and User Experience: A sound verification system isn’t just secure; it’s user-friendly. Businesses need to provide a verification process that safeguards information without creating a cumbersome experience for the customer.

Definition and Importance of Customer Verification

Customer verification is a critical step online businesses take to confirm the identity of their clients or customers. It’s a necessary process to reduce fraud, improve security, and comply with various legal and regulatory requirements. Customer identity verification also goes beyond just knowing who most customer verification services and applications of your customers are; it’s about ensuring that the person you’re interacting with is who they claim to be.
Businesses can avoid costly penalties associated with fraudulent transactions and non-compliance with regulatory demands, protect themselves, and verify customers from potential identity fraud. It also aids in building customer trust, as they feel secure knowing their data is protected.

Why Businesses Need Customer Verification

The need for customer verification varies across different sectors, but the primary goal remains to ensure the person you’re dealing with is genuinely who they say they are. Customer verification is part of financial institutions’ essential ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) protocols. Retailers must verify customers’ age and home addresses for certain restricted products and online services. For many online shopping services, businesses must ensure that the person signing up or making a transaction isn’t a bot or a fraudster.

Exploring the Different Types of Customer Verification

Passive Verification vs. Active Verification

There are two types of customer verification: passive and active. Passive verification is typically done behind the scenes without the customer’s knowledge. This could involve comparing the customer’s information against data from third-party databases. Active verification requires customer participation.

Passive Verification

The passive verification method is less intrusive and doesn’t require customers to disrupt the customer experience, making it user-friendly. However, it may not be as secure as active verification because it often relies on public data, which can be outdated or inaccurate.

Active Verification

Active name verification solutions can provide a higher level of security because it requires customers to provide personal information or evidence critical information that only the genuine customer would know or have. But, it can be seen as intrusive and may interrupt the customer journey, leading to potential customer drop-off.

Detailed Look at Specific Customer Verification Methods

Two-Factor Authentication (Multi-Factor or 2FA Authentication)

Two-factor authentication requires customers to provide two types of identifying information. This could be something they know (like a password), something they have (like a mobile phone or device to receive a one-time code), or something they are (like a fingerprint or facial recognition). It offers a higher level of security than single-factor authentication.

One-Time Password (OTP) Authentication

OTP authentication involves sending a unique, temporary password to a customer’s registered device. The customer enters this OTP to either verify the customer’s identity and their identity. The password is usually valid for a short period, making it difficult for fraudsters to use.

Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA)

KBA involves asking personal questions to verify customer identity, to which only the customer will likely know the answer. These questions could be static (based on stored personal information) or dynamic (generated in real time from third-party databases).

Online Document Verification

Online document verification involves customers submitting a scanned copy of a personal document (like a passport or driver’s license). Advanced algorithms or human verifiers then check the document’s authenticity.

Credit Bureau-based Authentication

This method involves matching the customer’s information and bank account with data held by credit bureaus. It can help verify an individual’s financial history, making it useful for other financial institutions.

Age Verification

Age verification is necessary when selling age-restricted products or services. It typically involves checking the customer’s age and date of birth against a trusted source, such as a credit card company or public records.

Photo Verification

Photo verification usually involves customers taking a live photo or video of themselves, matched with a photo ID or identity documents of other users they provide.

The Legal and Regulatory Landscape of Customer Verification

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Customer Verification

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) plays a significant role in customer verification applications for online and retail services. It dictates how businesses should handle, store, and protect the personal data of EU residents. Verification processes operate online and must be secure and transparent and respect the privacy rights of individuals, including the right to access their data and request data deletion.

Know Your Customer (KYC) Regulations

KYC regulations are critical to financial institutions’ due diligence to prevent identity theft, financial fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing. They require businesses to verify the identity of their customers, understand their financial dealings, and assess the risk of illegal intentions.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance

AML rules globally require banks, organizations, and online merchants, especially those in the financial sector online retail, to verify the identity of their customers. The aim is to prevent criminals from using businesses for money laundering activities. It usually involves verifying the customer’s identity and address.

Balancing Security and User-Friendliness

A secure business environment and a delightful user experience need not be mutually exclusive; they should be two sides of the same coin. The trick lies in finding that sweet spot where security measures are in full swing, yet the user experience remains smooth and pleasant. Let’s delve into this a bit deeper.
Customer verification acts like an invisible security guard, protecting your business and customers, yet it’s unobtrusive. It doesn’t stop the flow; it doesn’t create unnecessary obstacles; it simply merges into the overall user experience. This integration is crucial to avoid frustrating your customers and ensure they’re not jumping through hoops to access your services.
In this context, friction refers to any possible stumbling blocks that disrupt the customer’s journey. These could be lengthy forms, complicated verification methods, or requests for redundant information. Any such friction could deter your customers, causing them to abandon the process altogether. This could ultimately lead to declining customer satisfaction and conversion rates and even impact your business’s bottom line.
While focusing on user-friendliness, we must pay attention to the elephant in the room of most customer verification applications – security. Cyber threats are a harsh reality today, making a robust and foolproof customer verification process more critical than ever. While maintaining a user-friendly approach, we must be prepared to combat these threats with advanced measures, such as multi-factor authentication, biometrics, or AI-driven verification methods.
Our goal is to craft a customer verification experience that doesn’t compromise on either end of the onboarding process – ensuring a top-notch security level while keeping the user experience enjoyable and straightforward. A well-balanced, efficient process builds trust and fosters long-term customer relationships, driving your business’s success and growth.

Ensuring Customer Trust through A Secure Verification Processes

Living in a world where personal information is shared with a simple click, fostering a strong bond of trust between businesses and customers becomes important. When customers share sensitive data, they’re handing over a piece of their trust to the business, fully expecting their information to be safeguarded and used appropriately. Solidifying this trust revolves around a reliable and stringent customer verification process.
Think about it this way: when customers share their details, they say, ‘I trust you.’ Businesses are responsible for repaying that trust by ensuring their information is verified accurately and kept secure. All information- as simple as contact details and mailing addresses or as sensitive as financial data – should be protected with top-notch security measures.
But there’s more to this than just security. Transparency about the customer identity verification process is key to further building that trust. Customers deserve to know what’s happening with their data. So, businesses should be crystal clear about why they collect data, what they’re doing with it, and how they’re keeping it safe. This straightforward communication can ease any potential customer concerns and foster a relationship based on trust and respect.
For example, if a business needs to collect a date of birth for age verification, it should tell the customer exactly why they need this information, how they’ll use it, and how to keep it safe. Will it be encrypted? Stored securely? Compliant with any government laws and global data protection rules? These are all things that should be communicated to the customer.
Additionally, businesses can embrace technology like BlockID to boost security and transparency. Implementing advanced encryption for data storage or creating a customer portal where customers can manage their data are great ways to build that trust.

Challenges and Limitations in Customer Verification

Data Quality: The verification process is only as good as the data used. If the data is of good quality or accurate, it could positively affect the verification results. For instance, even the most advanced verification process might flag the user as unverified if a user inputs their name incorrectly.
Privacy Concerns: Striking a balance between security and privacy is a significant challenge. While businesses need certain information to verify the identity of their customers, they must also respect their privacy rights. Data collection and usage must be compliant with laws like GDPR, which might limit the data companies can use for verification.
Technological Barriers: Not all customers are tech-savvy. Complex verification methods that require sophisticated technical understanding might alienate some users, leading to poor customer experience and possible churn.
Cost of Implementation: Advanced verification methods, such as biometric verification and AI-based systems, could be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Balancing the need for robust verification with budgetary constraints is a significant challenge.

Best Practices for Implementing a Robust Customer Verification System

Implementing Multiple Verification Methods: Incorporating multiple verification methods, such as two-factor authentication, biometrics, and knowledge-based authentication, can enhance the robustness of your customer verification process. This not only ensures high-security standards but also caters to the varied technical proficiency of customers.

User Education: Regularly educate your customers about the importance of accurate data input and security practices. Make them aware of how to handle verification processes like OTP and two-factor authentication safely. This can reduce errors and increase the effectiveness of your verification process.
Continuous Evaluation and Updates: Technology and cyber threats and your verification methods evolve quickly. Regularly review your verification processes, stay updated with the latest trends, threats, and best practices in verification, and adapt accordingly.
Collaboration with Third Parties: Collaborating with third-party services specializing in customer verification can be beneficial. They have the expertise and resources to conduct the verification process more efficiently and effectively.
Prioritize User Experience: While having a stringent verification process is crucial, it’s equally important not to alienate your customers. Ensure your verification process is user-friendly and keeps the customer journey intact. Feedback from customers can help in optimizing this aspect.
Data Security Measures: Implementing advanced data security measures like end-to-end encryption, secure access controls, and firewalls can ensure customer data safety during and after verification. Regular audits and updates to security measures are also recommended.
Remember, an effective customer verification system combines security measures, user-friendliness, and legal compliance.

Getting customer verification isn’t nice; it’s mandatory for businesses. It’s not just about ticking legal boxes and dodging fraudsters. It’s about forging an ironclad, trust-filled space where customers feel protected and appreciated. And achieving this sweet spot is about something other than drowning in high-tech jargon or rigid rules. It’s about blending security with user-friendliness, creating a frictionless, safe experience. If you want to secure your customers in your organization, contact our team to book a demo.

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Meet the Author

Robert MacDonald

Vice President of Product Marketing

Robert is the Vice President of Product Marketing at 1Kosmos. He is a highly influential senior global marketer with more than 15 years of marketing experience in B2B and B2C software in the biometric authentication space. Prior to 1Kosmos, Rob managed product strategy and vision for the Identity and Access Management portfolio at Micro Focus, leading a team of product marketers to drive sales and support the channel. Earlier in his career he set the foundation for content planning, sales enablement and GTM activities for ForgeRock. He has also held senior marketing positions at Entrust, Dell, Quest and Corel Corporation.