What do users prefer: Experience or security?

As people, all of us like to be recognized. And we are not talking simply about recognition of certain personal or professional achievements, but about being recognized as a familiar or well-known face in the circles in which we move.

But those circles are becoming more and more digital. We spend much or our time browsing the web, whether for leisure or to carry out day-to-day tasks such as buying a book, making a reservation at a restaurant or transferring money.

For this reason, one of the biggest challenges of companies today is to transfer personal recognition to digital channels. We don’t mean just identifying a person; rather, a type of identification that is also a good experience: one that helps the person feel recognized personally without having to give up his or her security. But which of the two is really more important: experience or security?

An Experian study, The 2018 Global Fraud and Identity Report, sheds some light and generates some interesting data about this subject, namely the constant pursuit of balance between user experience and security in identity verification.

To begin with, 4 out of 5 users trust financial institutions to make the protection of their data a top priority. One of the factors leading to this trust is the visual signals that they encounter during a transaction. In fact, 27% of users abandon a transaction if they don’t see visible security mechanisms.

Clearly, then, a good experience doesn’t consist of completely eliminating the external security elements that a user might encounter, but rather ensuring that these do not interfere with the interaction with the company. In other words, security that is visible but not an annoyance.

Some 66% of users stated that “they like security protocols when they interact online because they help them feel protected.” This information reveals that tolerance of the friction caused by security mechanisms is higher than what was once thought. Nevertheless, this varies by country and according to the person’s age.

Variation based on geographical location is not that great. For example, levels are lower in Turkey: 56% compared to the average of 66%, and India has the highest level, at 76%.

Age, on the other hand, has a much stronger impact on tolerance to friction, understood as the interference of security mechanisms in the digital process or transaction involving identity verification. It seems that millennials don’t needs as many visible security protocols, given that in 42% of the cases, they would have completed more online transactions if there had not been as many security barriers.

It must be remembered that these profiles change and evolve, and that tolerance to friction will diminish gradually over time.

And so, even though we can still assume a certain amount of tolerance to friction, it will be necessary to continue developing and investing in technologies that offer better ways to identify users. The ideal way to achieve this is with systems that “recognize” the user instead of asking him or her to self-identify and then validate the identification.

Biometrics has brought about significant advances in this area, but we can go still further, thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the not-too-distant future, these technologies will make it possible for a person to be his or her own identification, that is, to be recognized based on behavior patterns in addition to biometric traits.

At the same time, these systems will make it possible to reduce online fraud more effectively by preventing “synthetic fraud”, that is, the creation of synthetic identities based on a combination of real and fictitious data, since the contextual behavior of an individual cannot be stolen or replicated.

Will digital systems eventually be able to recognize us as well as any other person in our environment? Based on the latest technological advances, the answer is yes. We are entering a new phase of digital identity verification, where companies will no longer identify users, but will recognize individuals.