News & Views - Savantor

Identity verification – whose responsibility?

Monday, 09 March 2015
The face-to-face banking world is shrinking due to its relative high-costs and a sweeping move towards digital services provided by banks. UK banks have even gone so far as agreeing a protocol for closing branches and have stepped away from a prior commitment to ensure that communities retain service. This month, the British Bankers' Association (BBA) and Accenture have released a report on challenges and opportunities presented by this digital trend – "Digital Disruption". The report suggests, quite rightly, that banks need to ensure that a full service is maintained to customers through the transition. There are, however, known and well understood underlying threats to digital services as a whole and, whilst a focus on security by the banks is imperative, their job is made increasingly difficult due to the nature of their customers – being regular, man-on-the-street human beings. We all know that the password has had its day as a security key in its own right – Users' poor "password hygiene", password complexity requirements and general consumer complacency have seen to that. Biometrics have been on the horizon for many years now … fingerprint, voice and face recognition are in use but each have their own flaws, despite the marketing, and then there is the question of where do you turn if someone DOES manage to hack your biometric identity? Two-factor authentication is now common and accepted by the public thanks to Chip & PIN and increasingly multi-factor authentication technologies are becoming available and put to use, often combining biometrics into the existing model. Digital security options for the future are there but they will represent a significant cost to implement, inevitably inconvenience the consumer and ultimately offer no guarantee of success. So, given the drive towards digital banking, the need for increased security around these digital services and the weak link in the chain (the consumer) often being less than diligent, where does the responsibility lie for ensuring that security is rock solid? If the technological push is down to the banks, should the consumers be forced to adapt given they have no choice or should technologists be coming up with a way to deliver security solutions that do not require consumers to comply with strict processes and procedures – something that is not imposed in face-to-face banking?
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