Rich Corriss is director of customer success at Lightico. The company provides automated cloud-based solutions—including eSignatures, eForms, document collection and secure payment—for completing customer-facing omni-channel workflows in industries like banking, auto finance, insurance, telco and healthcare. Rich has loads of experience improving and innovating customer experience and contact centers. He’s also a former vice president of JPMorgan Chase & Co., responsible for business administration and information technology projects. Rich talked with Mike Sasaki, leader of the Mitek Systems global customer success team, about the role identity verification in enabling new forms of customer engagement and the changing attitudes of Lightico clients and their customers.
Mike: Great to talk with you Rich. The past year brought a lot of change and advancement in digital engagement of customers. What’s your take on where we’re at, and do you see a “new normal” emerging?
Rich: Yes, it has been an epic year, from any way you look at it. From the point of view of identity verification and its role in digital customer engagement, we’ve made a lot of progress. Solutions like Mitek’s have been able to advance the ability of businesses to reach out to customers further than what people would have considered in the past. They’re enabling new ways to interact and driving higher acceptance of identity verification by consumers.
So I think we are seeing a new normal starting to emerge, and it’s likely to end up being some kind of hybrid. In some ways, we’re picking up where we left off pre-pandemic, but we’re also mixing in new business capabilities and consumer behaviors and attitudes that were necessitated by the crisis and now are probably going to stay with us.
Is trust part of the attitudinal change you’re talking about? I mean, a couple of years ago the term identity verification had kind of a negative connotation for some people. It was an “f-word” standing for adding friction to customer-facing processes. Now, it seems to be becoming the “t-word” standing for adding trust to these processes. Would you agree?
Absolutely. There’s been a major shift. I don’t like using the word “paradigm,” but there has certainly been a major shift in trust on both sides—both businesses and consumers. People are starting to accept the idea that there are secure and effective ways to manage processes and deliver services—we don’t have to continue doing everything the way it was done in the past.
What about biometrics specifically—are you seeing more acceptance of it as an identity verification method?
Yes, I’ve seen biometrics starting to gain significant acceptance across our client base as well as consumer base. We’re seeing it as a very valuable tool for things like fraud prevention and risk reduction. Of course biometrics like Mitek’s face matching were essential and had to step when branches closed during the pandemic.
Now, even as some face-to-face business interactions are resuming, businesses and consumers have a choice. And they can even work together: For example, in the financial services, a customer might be in a face-to-face interaction at a branch or auto dealership when they realize they didn’t bring the identity credentials or other documents they need. With Lightico’s solutions—because they incorporate biometric options —the person can finish up the process from home without having to make another trip into the branch.
More efficient for everyone! But what about concerns around biometrics bias? Is that an issue at all for your clients?
Sometimes. As you know, most of the industries we serve are heavily regulated, and there’s also concern for reputational damage. We’ve had a few interesting request from clients who are so worried about even appearing biased that they don’t want to capture any kind of image from the consumer. So while they want to authenticate the ID and auto-capture data from it, they don’t want to capture the portrait photo on the ID. And they don’t want the person to submit a selfie for comparison. Fortunately, with Mitek products, there are a lot of easy ways for us to accommodate unusual needs like that.
How are your clients using identity verification, biometric or otherwise, throughout customer lifecycles?
It tends to vary a bit depending on use cases, circumstances around the customer lifecycle journey and market verticals. For instance, in healthcare, because of HIPAA laws preventing the exposure of anything about an individual’s personal health situation, they really need to be careful to verify and confirm right up front that the person in an interaction is the right person to engage with. So some form of strong identity verification may be needed at each touch point. In banking, it may depend more on a period of time. Say I have a loan with a bank and several years down the road I may want to refinance or something else comes up that requires revalidating who I am. There are other cases in different industries where when enough time has gone by, there’s a need to be certain who the person is.
Rich, you’ve mentioned regulations several times, which brings me to another question: Do you think regulations are driving adoption of digital identity verification, or is it consumers?
I think it’s mostly consumers. There are still some very archaic laws and regulations out there in some states around eSignature and other digital capabilities. There are still some situations where they want, literally, a wet signature. But there are new laws moving slowly through various legislatures, so I think we’re going to see most places start catching up with what technology has to offer. Growing willingness among consumers and a clear understanding of the need are helping to move this along.
That sounds optimistic. Would it be fair to say you’re hopeful about the future of identity?
I am. I don’t really know how everything is going to fall out yet, but I believe there’s tremendous opportunity to go further with personal identity verification capabilities. I mean, think about how far and fast we’ve already come. In banking over just the past few years, we’ve seen e-wallet capabilities being widely adopted and even starting to become something of a norm.
There are still complications of course. The biggest issue I sometimes hear from naysayers is, well, I can change my account number if it’s compromised but what can I do to fix my digital identity if it’s compromised? So there’s a lot that still has to be worked out, but I believe that technology will rise to the challenge and come up with improvements for service delivery and execution that will enable much simpler and more efficient interactions between businesses and consumers.
Okay, speaking of consumers, let me ask you to put on your consumer hat. Do you think we should all be able to own our digital identities?
Yes, I hope so, and expect so. I mean, when we talk about digital identities, we’re really talking about ourselves. I have a set of fingerprints, I have DNA—those are mine alone. And if I’m extending these things that are mine to include a digital identity, I need to be able to own and control it. I need to be able to manage and use it securely and appropriately, and not have other people sticking their noses in where they don’t belong. I think it’s an absolute mandate.
As traditional bank and financial service companies offer online banking it’s imperative that they meet customer expectations of having a personalized experience. The digital experience of online banking needs to cater to the customer needs for an overall improved online banking experience. Leveraging customer data is key to creating a great customer experience and gaining the customer loyalty needed for growth and trust. The number one way to increase trust is by having a secure and somewhat frictionless onboarding process for identification. Learn more about identity verification solutions today.