Europe Fintech

Understanding the urgent need for secure identity during COVID-19

It’s safe to say that there has been a surge in the demand and usage of digital services during lockdown. So, what does this change in habits mean for the industry?

This shift actually marks a new emphasis, across all industries, on the development and innovation of digital identity and authentication practices.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, 509 coronavirus-related scams have already been reported by Action Fraud, with total losses of those targeted amounting to a staggering £1.6m. However, consumers are still looking for a seamless digital user experience, without disrupting their lives online, now that there is no alternative other than making all their purchases digitally. So, this needs to be an area of focus for all businesses.

Yet their battle against fraudsters is real, as organisations are attempting to ramp up their security measures – all whilst avoiding negatively impacting the consumer journey.

COVID-19 has resulted in a significantly increased demand for and volume of transactions for specific digital services – financial services, retail, online entertainment, and courier services have been the hardest hit. In order to provide customers with a frictionless user experience and high levels of service, these businesses may become susceptible to security negligence around customer authentication. However, being able to identify customers with confidence and ease is now more important than ever. They could be leaving themselves and their valued customers exposed to fraud during the race towards digital transformation.

Nowadays, identity underpins a lot of the products and services that we use on a daily basis. Especially during COVID-19, people are subscribing to a wider range of online services, from Netflix to food and pharmacy delivery boxes. At the same time, they are also sharing their personal details with friends, family and colleagues to maintain contact and digitally socialise whilst carrying out social distancing. Delivery drivers are leaving purchased goods outside our doorsteps, avoiding any physical contact with the buyer. In all these instances, proof of identity is almost always required, fraudsters have a chance to take advantage of the trust placed on individuals.

Even before the pandemic, industry reports indicated that the number of fraud incidents taking place for these sorts of services were increasing year-on-year, with scammers exploiting those companies who have yet to embrace the right level of identity and authentication products. Therefore, these are the organisations that need to act immediately, this is more than just customer fraud prevention during COVID-19.

As organisations have been required to quickly adapt and evolve, how can they be sure to prioritise their most vulnerable customers, while simultaneously ensuring they don’t disrupt customers’ access to all the vital products and services they urgently need?

The number one barrier that these businesses face is scaling their technology, to guarantee that it is quick enough to cope with demand. This is where collaboration is key – they need to pair up with partners who have the pre-existing technology to solve these issues and the ability to roll out the technology instantaneously, particularly with companies that have the technology to identify cases of potential fraud at rapid pace. This is where real-time identification is critical. By implementing a fraud solution that analyses and correlates the location, device and behavioural data of users, as well as identifies bots in a split second – organisations can quickly conclude whether or not it is their genuine customer requesting access to their products and services. One current use case is how businesses are easing the backlog of people who are attempting to get in touch with customer services because they’re failing to login to their online accounts.

Plus, right now companies don’t have the time to investigate reported fraud cases and disputed claims, so it is imperative that they have a technology that allows them to prove who made a transaction, and therefore avoid the resources and fees associated with these claims in place.

Every one of our lives have been disrupted by COVID-19, so it is essential that organisations are opting for the most appropriate technology with a wide choice of identification methods to cater for everyone. For instance, behavioural biometric authentication offers a very simple, yet secure, method to authenticate online users and provides companies with the right tools to effectively scale their online services quickly, whilst protecting the end user. Adopting this type of approach is critical if organisations want to avoid alienating customers with authentication solutions that don’t suit the needs of their entire customer base.

Having a strategic partnership in place can help businesses to improve efficiencies during the current COVID-19 demand and challenges – and more importantly, the solutions that we deploy now will be beneficial strategically – i.e. behavioural biometrics can be used as authentication for the new SCA e-commerce journeys across banking and retail.

All in all, if companies don’t act now, they are at high risk of losing customers due to a poor user experience. In the worst-case scenario, the pandemic could potentially lead to the exploitation of authentication mechanisms and identity theft on a large, industrial scale – its ramifications could be felt for years to come.


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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