PARTNER INTERVIEW: With increasing demand from consumers and operators to move customer journeys to digital channels, it is vital to ensure the systems enabling this are secure and provide the convenience expected from remote onboarding and support.

Here, Thales Marketing Manager for Digital Identity and security Pauline Pinzuti (pictured, below) discusses the importance of creating a Trusted Digital Journey for users.

Mobile World Live: What are the drivers and main market trends for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) regarding the digital customer journey?
Pauline Pinzuti (PP): The key with the digital customer journey is enrolment. If there is no enrolment there is no digital customer journey at all. Providers need to focus on streamlining and securing this particular aspect.

Traditionally customer journeys almost always started at a physical point of sale, but this is increasingly moving to an online experience. This trend was already underway, but undoubtedly accelerated by the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The move to digital channels has raised new concerns around fraud due to the nature of these remote interactions, which has really driven the need for strong online ID verification.

From the consumer’s side, in the digital world they are looking for a smooth experience for their enrolment process. Systems in place need to be really convenient to avoid users abandoning transactions and potentially moving to a rival provider delivering a better experience.

We’ve also seen a trend, even before the pandemic, of service providers creating their own standalone digital brand. It does not only mean adapting processes to online subscriptions, but above all, creating a full digital journey.

MWL: What are the main challenges being faced in the move to digital journeys and how can these be mitigated?
PP: Fraud prevention is one of the main challenges in a digital journey: when signing customers up remotely we need to ensure the person is who they actually claim to be. This is the case for all remote channels, whether online (web and mobile app) or one-on-one via a call centre.

Indeed, a lot of criminal activities occur when fraudsters present falsified ID documents to create an account or use information gathered through social engineering to try to take over an existing account.

This has to be addressed not only to protect subscribers, but telecoms operators as well.

For instance, the communications Fraud Control Association figures show fraud costs the global telecoms industry more than $30 billion every year, with subscription identity-related crimes accounting for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of all losses.

This problem has intensified during the pandemic when everyone was at home and all transactions and interactions were done remotely, as this activity becomes easier when the customer is not physically present at the point of sale.

So how can you verify that the prospective customer has a valid identity?

You first need to verify the validity of the ID document and perform a comparison between the photo printed on the identity document and a live capture of a face (customer’s selfie)

Alongside checking the credentials of the customer, operators also need to meet various local data regulations such as GDPR in Europe.

It’s not only about security though, digital consumers demand a smooth and easy experience. If a user wants to subscribe online and it’s too complicated or inconvenient, there is a significant risk they could abandon the transaction and sign-up with someone else.

Providers must find the right balance between security and convenience.

MWL: What does Thales offer in this area and what are the key benefits for CSPs’ businesses?
PP: Thales offers a platform of services called Thales Trusted Digital Identity for quick secure and seamless onboarding and authentication of subscribers. It encompasses a range of different features and functionalities.

These include ID document verification and facial matching, which proves the identity of the user by comparing the image on the identity document with a selfie provided by the user.

There are many other verifications which can be done and additional services can be plugged-in depending on specific requirements and local regulations which need to be adhered to.

Our solution can also gather the biographic elements from documents to automatically fill the MNO’s database, so there is no need to type everything. This makes the whole process faster and improves user experience.

A robust security system is vital not only for initial enrolment, but also applicable to authentication of subscribers on an ongoing basis. Once this trusted identity has been created by the Thales solution it can be used for authentication to the MNO’s website or mobile app, using biometric means, such as facial recognition or voice matching.

Thales has long-standing credentials in identity management and fraud prevention. We can capitalise on expertise from our wider business, manufacturing ID documents and also experience with various biometric projects, public and civil.

We also need to keep in mind that some mobile network operators have other value added services with strict security requirements such as those in digital financial services, which Thales is also able to facilitate.