Interview: Experian on biometrics and digital ID

03/02/20

In this interview, Planet Biometrics caught up with Mike Gross, Head of Global Fraud & ID Production Innovation at Experian, to hear his views on the evolution of identity in 2020 and beyond.

What are the most important trends you are noticing in digital identity?
There are a few key areas here. For one, the number of device interactions has exploded over the past several years. Ten years ago, consumers only had to manage a handful of online accounts with a few trusted brands. But today, most consumers have provided their personal information to hundreds of organizations, exposing them to greater fraud and data compromise risks.

Consumers also routinely forget passwords and fail other archaic controls because the industry has not aligned around a digital identity authentication standard. As we will see in the 2020 Global Identity & Fraud Report, businesses are making progress when it comes to applying multiple levels of security at customer setup and login, but consumers still don’t feel recognized and fraud losses are still high. So there are plenty of opportunities on the horizon for consumers and businesses to manage these risks and provide more seamless digital experiences.

Additionally, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using their face and fingerprint biometrics, especially for hyper-convenient and secure account access from their smartphones. Since this biometric data is managed on-device and not going through a third party, consumers are more willing to use these forms of security. In a an upcoming study, we found that 81 percent of consumers globally view physical biometrics as the most secure form of identity verification. Not only do physical biometrics have consumers’ trust, but they provide a frictionless experience, further contributing to their widespread adoption. 

Another trend is the growth and ubiquity of smart devices that act as digital proxies for consumers through mobile-first interactions. But many of those devices cannot support basic digital identity authentication controls that link consumers to all of their digital exhaust generated from the growing list of interactions and devices. Organizations will need to continue advancing their authentication efforts and investments around these smart devices as they represent an increasing number of customer interactions.  

Lastly, digital identity is still an incredibly fragmented market, leading to a lot of customer frustration. In fact, more than half of consumers we surveyed don’t feel recognized by the businesses they interact with despite businesses feeling confident in their ability identify their customers. Consumers expect an Amazon-like experience every time they go online, but the majority of brands simply aren’t able to provide that level of experience because they aren’t tying a consumer’s identity to the devices they interact with. Brands need to master recognizing consumers at every interaction. And the availability of large data sets and analytic techniques can help businesses reveal patterns, trends, and behaviors that can be especially helpful in in these recognition challenges. 

How has mobile technology played a key role in the evolution of biometrics usage?

Mobile technology has played a critical role in the evolution and adoption of biometrics usage as the easy availability of on-device biometrics have enabled seamless mobile-first experiences. Consumers are more comfortable taking advantage of biometrics that are enrolled and managed on-device and don’t interact with a third party, and businesses benefit by not having to manage sensitive biometric data. Biometric security measures are available with almost every mobile device, making it easy for consumers to set up simple biometric authentication to access their accounts without remembering hundreds of passwords. 

Consumers also recognize the value of biometrics as a security measure and it plays into their overall experience with top brands. According to Experian’s upcoming 2020 Global Fraud & Identity Report, 88% of consumers like the advances being made to the customer experience as a result of their information being used to layer security, convenience and personalization.
 

What held up biometrics adoption in previous years, in your view?

The view that biometrics are intimately personal and irreplaceable has caused a delay in biometric adoption. With billions of records being compromised over the past few years, it’s no surprise that consumers are skeptical about organizations’ security controls and the ability for businesses to protect their data. This is even more critical for biometric data due to its sensitivity.

Despite the widespread adoption of biometric data on personal devices, consumers remain cautious. As an example, most consumers have no concern adopting on-device facial recognition to access their bank account – but likely would not provide their facial biometric data to third-parties outside of the security and control of their smartphone.

Have authorities and private entities done enough to assuage privacy fears over biometrics?

Not yet. Most consumers understand the need to provide a comprehensive set of biometric data for highly-secure use cases, such as registration for TSA pre-check or other flight security offerings. But for mass consumption, there is a significant amount of work that still needs to be done around organizations being transparent about what data is collected and how it is being used. Until that happens, consumers will likely remain uncomfortable with sharing more biometric data. 
Businesses must prioritize consumer privacy and data security in order to gain the trust of consumers. In fact, we believe that security is the permission that begins and continues a relationship with a customer.  

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