Innovator Q&A: Using identity verification for the future of digital onboarding

Brain Swanson, EVP, Head of Consumer Bank for Axos, talks with Mike Sasaki, Head of Global Customer Success for Mitek, about the ways in which identify verification enhances his customers’ experiences, reduces his bank’s risks, and improves profitability throughout their marketing funnel. Axos Bank was among the first digital banks in the world. Their goal is to provide a diverse range of innovative banking products and services for personal, business, and institutional clients nationwide — and to bring together human insight and digital expertise to anticipate and meet their customers’ needs. 

Axos pioneered digital banking as one of the very first online banks. Could you walk us through the history of identity verification in banking?
Brian: In traditional banking, a customer walks into a branch and requests a new product — perhaps a savings account or a checking account. It’s easy to
identify the individual because you can get a copy of their ID documents like a driver’s license or passport. You have that face-to-face interaction, so you know who they are. Moving banking online has added a whole new set of challenges across digital channels. You are no longer getting a face-to-face interaction. Banks now need to use advancements in technology that will give them the tools to understand who their customer is; to verify who they’re working with.

Today, there’s a big balance between a bank’s requirements, expected customer experience and loss prevention. The goal is to create a frictionless experience for our customers that gives us the ability to identify who they are, make sure we have the right person coming on board, mitigate any potential risks, and comply with laws, rules, regulations.

Would you say efforts around implementing secure technologies are driven by regulations or customer experience?
They're driven by both. We need to make sure we’re in compliance with all laws, rules, and regulations, but also focused on lost prevention and ensuring risk is clearly mitigated. From a customer experience perspective, our goal is to provide a world-class experience and create a deep trusted customer relationship. Whether they want to buy a home, refinance an auto loan, or open a small business, we want to make sure we wow our customers at every step. We have to leverage our technology to best provide them with a frictionless process when they onboard. And as we get to know them, we need the ability to add products with as little friction as possible because of the relationship we already have.

On top of that, we put a big emphasis on cross-selling, giving our customers the ability to effectively get multiple products at the point of sale. We’ve also created new disciplines around funnel management, looking at every particular touchpoint to ensure everything’s functioning as it should be, and looking at our acquisition costs.

Can you elaborate on the different touchpoints across the customer journey?
Sure, as you move through the enrollment process, using consumer deposits as an example, there are different integrations. The integrations can include linking an external account, funding a new account, identity verification, so on and so forth. Each one of those integrations presents a new touchpoint. We’ve created a very disciplined approach to manage every single step along the journey. If any issue pops up, we’re able to quickly identify the issue, take action, or propose changes so the enrollment flows along.

We use identity verification at the beginning of our enrollment process. This allows us to potentially reduce friction by pre-populating data on an application from the identity document.

How often do you look at customer experience? Is it just when you launch a new product or a new flow?
We are constantly looking at our customer journey and ensuring there is no single point of failure where the customer cannot complete an application. We’ve built a very disciplined approach into all of our consumer lines of business. We continually monitor and manage our funnel and the enrollment process for getting a new product. Whether you’re getting a mortgage, refinancing an auto loan, or opening a deposit account, different pieces of information are required in each process. Where are customers dropping off? Is there data fatigue? Is the process too long? Are we not effectively leveraging data provided by third parties to pre-populate applications? The goal is to reduce friction, get enrollment time as quickly as possible, and provide a very engaging experience for our customers so they’re motivated to complete the action.
What advice would you offer to other banks that are looking to implement document ID verification?
I would strongly suggest looking at implementing ID verification in the beginning of your process, where you have the ability to lift information from an ID document to effectively reduce friction downstream. We want to make sure there’s no dead end for our customers. Should they have an issue — for example, if their ID isn’t able to be read — we want to make sure they have an alternative path.