How TD Bank Is Tackling the Authentication Challenge for Omnichannel Banking

Today, providing an omnichannel banking experience is fast-becoming an imperative for financial institutions, rather than a luxury. As more and more customers are embracing digital as the go-to channel for everyday transactions, banks are challenged to ensure that they are delivering across multiple touchpoints – branches, desktops, phone lines, mobile. Indeed, recent research from J.D. Power reveals that more customers than ever are using mobile banking – 49% of Millennials, 31% of Gen X, and 16% of Boomers – and that some 79% overall are regularly engaged with a bank’s website.

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However, crucial to the omnichannel experience is the promise of “seamlessness”. Not only do customers expect to be able choose between numerous channels when doing business with their bank, but they also expect to have the ability to move between them with absolute ease and agility. But standing in the way of such “seamless” transitions is security. Of course customers expect the financial institutions they deal with to provide the most stringent privacy and security guarantees across every communication and every transaction that they make. But in the world of omnichannel experiences, if a customer is continuously having to authenticate him/herself when switching between channels, the notion of “seamlessness” goes out the window.

TD Bank is well aware of these obstacles. Talking to American Banker, Rizwan Khalfan, Chief Digital Officer at TD, says that the imperfections of authentication across multiple touchpoints is having a seriously adverse effect on the customer experience.

"Over time, we've been building these point solutions," Khalfan explains. "In the call center you might use voice recognition. If [customers] use a mobile device you ask for a password, challenge questions, TouchID. If they have a face-to-face interaction, they dip their card. All these point solutions are becoming difficult to manage, and the experience you're delivering to a customer is not seamless."

The Transmit Security Solution

But, late last year, TD Bank made a serious move to tackle these authentication challenges for its omnichannel customers by teaming up with Transmit Security – a recently-launched startup providing a platform that off-loads authentication chores from companies that would otherwise reside within their applications.

"The world we live in is a connected world, and whether it's in the physical or digital, I don't want to be continuously authenticating myself," Khalfan said. "I have an expectation [that] the service will recognize who I am and my identity and true authentication will be persistent as I go from one aspect of my life to another."

Transmit Security has developed a platform that provides a solution to this problem for both businesses like TD Bank and their customers. The platform connects to applications via APIs to enable multiple biometric authentications – eye, voice, fingerprint, and face recognition – all in one place. As Rakesh Loonkar, President and Co-founder of Transmit, explains: "The biggest enterprises spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on developers that are tying all this stuff together. They enter the software development cycle every time they want to add an identity feature in a channel, and it can take 6-18 months. Whenever they implement these new tools, they have to tie everything together with success and failure logic, and they have to make it all work based on the ideal user experience."

Mobile-centric Omnichannel Authentication

In days gone by, when authentication was governed almost entirely by username and password, this was all much less of a concern. But today, new authentication solutions are emerging all the time, and businesses want to take advantage of them. But with so many channels being used to access applications – mobile, online, phone – and so many different identification factors, the task of merging them all together is much more complex.

In order to keep costs down for the enterprise and deliver the seamless omnichannel experiences that customers expect, the Transmit Security platform has been designed to support the authentication logic that customers want remotely, and then push it to the applications that they use. For example, mobile-centric omnichannel authentication allows users connecting from mobile devices to be transferred from an online banking app (for instance) to a live call with a customer-service rep without reauthenticating. And this can all be configured within hours, Transmit says, as opposed to the 6-18 months it would take to program the logic directly into each application.

Fail-safe Biometric Authentication

What undoubtedly attracted TD Bank to the Transmit solution is the fact that it puts the customer experience at its core. Users can select their login preference – one may choose to verify themselves by fingerprint, another by voice, and another by taking a selfie – and use that every time they make contact with their bank, no matter what channel they’re going through. In addition, backup options can be incorporated in the event that one biometric doesn’t work. One of the problems with various biometrics is that they sometimes fail in certain conditions. Fingerprints can’t always be read due to physical labor, or if the user plays a musical instrument (such as a guitar) that scuffs the prints. Facial recognition doesn’t work in dark places, nor does voice recognition in noisy environments. But omnichannel authentication platforms, such as what Transmit Security provides, let banks offer several backup options in the event the first biometric fails.

"Offering customers the ability to use a variety of biometric modalities allows them to use solutions that they are most comfortable with and it limits access challenges related to the environment and customer," said Al Pascual, Senior Vice President, Research Director, and Head of Fraud and Security at Javelin Strategy and Research. " And having all of this available from a single vendor means less complexity on the back end."

Seamless Omnichannel Experiences

TD Bank has already integrated its mobile app and call center logins through Transit, meaning that any of its customers who are involved with an authenticated session on a mobile device can simply tap a button and be put through to a call with an advisor without having to re-authenticate – the sort of omnichannel experience that may be truly described as “seamless”. The bank says it will roll out additional authentication methods channel by channel in the coming months.

The last word goes to Rizwan Khalfan. “Transmit is a very agile way to seamlessly and continuously strengthen our authentication. The software allows us to continuously build new mechanisms to authenticate without having to go in and rip apart what we’ve done previously.”

Hear Hisham Salama, TD Bank’s Head of Emerging Payments & Innovation, at Future Digital Finance West 2017 this December.

Download the Future Digital Finance West 2017 Agenda to learn more.