Safer Internet Day: Take the opportunity to redefine your authentication strategies

The world is celebrating Safer Internet Day on February 11. This will mark its seventeenth year, with 150 countries worldwide coming together to encourage a conversation around the safe and responsible use of digital technology.

In today’s fast-moving digital world, businesses are reaping the rewards of a dynamic online presence. Shopping, insurance, and banking have all moved online, with customers wanting an easy-to-use system that keeps their payment data secure. Whilst the benefits are vast, with Internet sales accounting for 21.3% of total retail sales in 2019, the risks are real.

Over 2.6 million UK accounts were defrauded last year, of which 76% were remote purchases, and this figure is only expected to rise. As online commerce is becoming more innovative, fraudulent activity is responding and becoming more sophisticated. Consumer safety is now even more at risk considering the delayed implementation of the EU-wide PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) directive. The regulation requires two or more factor authentication on high value purchases, but will not be applied to payment service providers until March 14th 2021. 

So, how do retailers combat this? 

The first phase is to prioritise innovating multi factor authentication strategies. The second is to ensure that those strategies are paired with single-step convenience on a customer’s digital device. It’s important to create a service that’s personalised, secure, and simple to use in order to reduce abandoned purchases and increase customer confidence. Authentication techniques need to move away from ‘what you know’ such as passwords, which can be easily phished and stolen, towards ‘what you are,’ using a combination of physical biometrics such as fingerprint and facial recognition. Liveness detection, which identifies movement, can also be applied to ensure authentication is taking place in real-time.

Innovative behavioural biometric methods, which gather data from a device’s motion sensors in order to analyse particular patterns of behaviour unique to the user, are being hailed as the final frontier in security, and provide an additional layer of security in the most seamless fashion. This could be the way you use your phone, use an application, complimented by the device’s location or time of day.

These forms of authentication not only streamline the customer experience, but they also provide a greater level of security, especially when used in tandem. But it’s important to utilise the right biometric technique for the right use case. This means clearly understanding the digital expectations of the customer, and how to deliver them. By basing these biometric techniques on the individual customer scenario, companies will be able to increase customer security without the associated costs.

Safer Internet Day represents the perfect opportunity for organisations, especially retailers, to take a look at their security measures. Business must face up to changing consumer habits and respond to the specific needs of the increasingly mobile dominant and digitally shrewd customer, with security and convenience often making the top of that list. When customers feel unprotected purchasing online, neglected shopping baskets and customer churn will be the result.

Read more from Jason Tooley on how biometrics can help retailers meet the Strong Customer Authentication mandate.