Europe Fintech

The Pressure to Create Personalisation in the Digital Age

The society that we live in is very much digital-first, whether it is the way we bank and shop, or work and socialise. Amir Nooriala, Chief Commercial Officer at Callsign, believes that although technological evolution may have been underway for some time, there is no denying that COVID-19 has greatly increased the pace of change. 

Only about six months ago was I sitting with some of the world’s largest banks and merchants talking about their three- to five-year digital transformation plans. Now these projects have a three-to-five-month timeline, which has brought about substantial challenges, not just to the organisations striving to meet new customer demands, but to society itself and meeting the needs of everyone. Therefore, this article considers how we should adopt this new normal, pulling from conversations I have had across the sector and from the recent Pay360 panel I hosted – ‘In the post-COVID-19 world everyone works remotely, and shops/banks are all online. Is solving digital identity the next gold rush?’

Two key statistics that really summed-up this change were quoted by the panel:

  • Over 50s were PayPal’s fastest-growing demographic between March and April 2020
  • Major banks are now seeing daily (global) mobile engagement on their apps

These probably come as no surprise, but they clearly highlight the new pressures organisations are facing in order to make digital transformation work for the whole customer base (not solely for millennials or Gen Z). A multi-faceted transformation needs to take place, which all centres around personalisation and getting this right for each and every individual user. 

How do we define personalisation? 

Samuel Bevan (Snap Inc.) noted in one of the sessions that ‘for every second your site takes to load on mobile you are going to lose 7% of conversions’. Such levels of user behaviour would prove a difficult challenge for most organisations, but it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to satisfying customer demands. In our digital age, personalisation goes far beyond knowing the fundamental details about a customer, it is about delivering the right experiences, at the right place, at the right time. In the banking and fintech space, it is individual saving buckets, avatars, and offering seamless payment initiation journeys that keep customers in the same channel. 

That said, as broader demographics make the transition online, there is the risk that customers will struggle with cumbersome journeys or fall victim to new threats, such as authorised push payment (APP) fraud. Many financial institutions anticipate a surge in call centre enquiries, whilst others are looking at how to deliver suitable and timely messages to help users along or warn them when danger seems apparent. It is exactly this approach to hyper-personalisation that is helping fintechs become such fierce competitors when it comes to digital transformation. Utilising a wealth of data and combining it with agile development processes. 

This is not to say the more established banks cannot reign supreme by initiating their own partnerships or collaboration between in-house teams. This is something we are in the process of achieving with a number of institutions, deploying policy or intelligence-driven interventions into a user’s digital journey in real-time. At a glance, this may seem irrelevant, but it is crucial to get these personalisation elements right first before helping organisations build long-term digital trust.

Digital trust is at the core of digital transformation, as Andrew Scott (HSBC) points out during the Pay360 panel, ‘that long-term relationship is about trust’. In the real world, the trust itself has been fairly simple to build, but it is far more complicated in the digital realm. Enterprises that actively earn the confidence of their customers will have a competitive edge over those who do not. Online, digital trust centres around personalisation, security, and privacy, but at the heart of all of these is digital identification.

Establishing digital trust

Data is perceived as new currency in the digital world, and the leading companies are those that are discovering the best ways to utilise it to deliver high-class user experiences. Although, one similarity throughout is how these platforms are dependent on customers’ digital identities as the foundation of this hyper-personalisation. We are not just talking about self-styled avatars or celebrating savings goals, but bespoke payment journeys that meet each individual’s unique needs. 

Edward (CEO/Founder, Bud) raised a valid point on the Pay360 panel, ‘(with payment flows) customers will drop off if there’s friction… or (the journey) doesn’t make sense’. As businesses turn to partners to personalise customer experiences, we need to ensure these systems and the customer’s data are secure. Of course, personalisation is the way forward to drive growth and differentiation. However, the consequences can be dire if this is executed badly. Just as saving buckets can be tailor-made, so too should authentication journeys and identification processes. 

This approach is known as ‘positive identification’ and it actively aims to help businesses provide seamless identification journeys that form the central pillar to all levels of personalisation. It is important to remember that these journeys or integrations not only need to be secure and unique but they also absolutely must have your customers’ privacy in mind. This is true personalisation. 

Andrew Scott highlights one of the key concerns for HSBC is getting ‘the right balance between the KYC requirements and low friction’. Yet, low friction does not just avoid lengthy forms, it is about online experiences that are tailored to those who do not have access to high-end devices, the ability or willingness to leverage traditional biometrics or those who a lack the signal to receive an SMS. 

Our take on positive identification considers passive methods to help verify identity, removing friction wherever possible. These passive methods are also used to ensure that we are verifying that the user really is who they say they are. This leverages a combination of methods, from data capture ( such as device fingerprinting and our world-leading MI suite of authenticators) to how we analyse this data through ensembling. 

Step by step, through the adoption of this approach, we are gradually working towards a frictionless customer experience, empowering businesses with the ability to personalise and tailor journeys on an individual customer level; whilst still providing them with assurances around privacy and security. In our opinion, positive identification is the foundation you need in order to establish long-term trust with your customers, and truly succeed in the digital world. 


  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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