Experian’s Identity GM Addresses Industry’s Post-COVID Challenges

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The quick pivot of so much commerce to online systems has increased the possibility of fraud, creating challenges for IT leaders.

Image: Sashkin - stock.adobe.com

Image: Sashkin – stock.adobe.com

Just like a flood and then the cleanup and rebuilding after such a natural disaster, COVID-19 had an initial impact on our lives with health consequences, shutdowns, and more — including an economic downturn and new ways to accomplish tasks such as shopping for groceries or gifts. How our behavior has changed over the last year and the new patterns of commerce are yet another huge impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big question is, how are CIOs and other IT leaders dealing with a whole host of new challenges created by the move of so much commerce from in person to online? One of the top priorities for these leaders going forward is security and identity verification.

It’s not just that we’ve moved to shopping online. These moves we made have forced IT leaders to accelerate their timelines in enabling online transactions and services as a consequence. Each impact of the pandemic has started its own cascade of changes to how we work and live.

Those changes are here to stay, according to Eric Haller, executive VP and GM of DataLabs at credit rating and scoring giant Experian. Haller pioneered the DataLabs R&D operation inside Experian just over a decade ago, and in the last year Haller has expanded his role to lead the Identity and Fraud operations for the company, too.

It turns out that as more business has migrated online, more fraud has also migrated online.

“The acceleration of this digital world is not a temporary phenomenon,” Haller told InformationWeek. “Our bet is that it is here to stay, and it is only going to grow over time.”

The acceleration of digital transactions has created an underlying tension in consumer expectations.

Experian surveyed more than 9,000 consumers and more than 2,700 businesses during three waves throughout the pandemic across 10 countries spanning North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

The survey revealed that 60% of consumers had higher expectations of the quality of the online experience than they did before the pandemic began.

“The patience to wait and the patience for organizations to get it right is dropping. The consumer expectation is for a much cleaner experience,” Haller said. On the other hand, consumers aren’t willing to compromise on security. Haller said that 55% of everyone surveyed said security was their top priority.

As a credit scoring company, Experian has worked in the identity and fraud space for about 40 years. Detecting fraud used to be easier.

“In the span of 20 years the way a merchant can get compromised by fraud has increased year after year,” Haller said. “It used to be as long as I was smart about verifying the card number and CVV and validating the shipping address was the same as the billing address on the card, I could protect the business against fraud. It was enough.”

But the accelerated move to online transactions has also accelerated the bad actors and fraud attempts. That’s increased the work businesses and Experian are doing to mitigate fraud and better secure transactions.

“Today with so many bad actors focused on how to create automatic ways to fool systems into thinking they are legitimate, it’s getting harder to validate that the business is transacting with a real person,” Haller said. As a result, identity verification has gotten more sophisticated and better, too. For instance, it looks at IP addresses, device IDs, and GPS coordinates.

Another field that is emerging is called behavior biometrics that captures data about how you interact with your keyboard and mouse and then uses that information about your behaviors to verify your identity, Haller said.

“It is looking at how quickly you are typing, how you are using your phone, how you carry your phone,” he said. “These are all behaviors associated with an identity. It might help determine whether someone has taken your device and is pretending to be you.”

To help IT security pros to tap into the most advanced technology for verifying identity and preventing fraud, Experian created CrossCore Orchestration Hub to connect the newest and most advanced services with customers.

“We are trying to help our clients be more effective in discovering new risks and put new technology into production so they can protect themselves,” Haller said.

While financial companies make up the largest portion of the company’s customer base, Experian has also seen an uptick in demand for its identity verification services among healthcare IT leaders over the last year. In this domain, too, there’s a focus on balancing access with security, according to Karly Rowe, vice president of patient access, identity, and care management product at Experian Health. While patient portals may have been around for a few years now, the move to telehealth appointments has added another component to be secured.

“There has been a dramatic upswing in demand for help in managing and resolving patient identity since COVID began,” Rowe told InformationWeek. For instance, 78% of consumers say they want to be able to schedule appointments remotely from their home computer or mobile device, according to Experian. But to do that, these apps must be able to verify the identity of that individual.

“We need to be able to confirm that you are who you say you are,” Rowe said. That’s important for granting access to protected healthcare information. The work has only just begun in the healthcare industry.

“Healthcare is on this journey I think is very akin to the journey other industries have been on,” Rowe said. “It’s transforming to a very different experience. The next few years will really usher in a transformative time with consumers and healthcare. With a click of a button or two, consumers will be able to access all types of services in a very different way than we have been able to in the past.”

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Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter: … View Full Bio

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