The Mobile Remote Enrollment Challenge

August 15 — There may still be services that the average consumer prefers to access in-branch, but applying for a new digital product isn’t one of them. Fortunately, there are options available for remotely onboarding your existing customers quickly and securely, writes Dewald Nolte, Entersekt’s chief commercial officer.

Remotely enrolling users is a growing concern for digital service providers, especially in the security-minded industries. How do you make it easier — a lot easier — for your customers to sign up to new products and services at home, especially with so much else — and so many other providers — competing for their attention these days?

A significant percentage of consumers currently balk at the effort. Apparently, fewer than half of financial institutions measure application abandonment, but a 2018 study of European consumers commissioned by Signicat, a Norwegian identity assurance provider, polled digital banking users directly. It found that just over half had abandoned a remote application for a financial product in the previous 12 months.

Respondents cited the amount of personal information they were required to provide (40 percent) followed by the time it took (34 percent) for dropping out, 56 percent of respondents had discarded an application – a startling 35 percent increase from two years prior. (The primary factor there was time: 43 percent.)

Digitally enabling account holders lies at the heart of most banks’ revenue growth and cost-saving strategies, so it’s easy to see why figures like Signicat’s worry many in the industry.

First impressions can be expensive.

After spending millions developing and promoting your new self-service mobile app, the last thing you want to do is spoil the mood by having your customers jump through hoops to use it. Your marketing team’s song and dance about on-the-go convenience will ring hollow if you force a visit to a bank branch to activate the service. There’s nothing “digital”, “empowering”, or “convenient” about physically standing in a queue to register for a new product, clutching your photo ID and flicking through your fistful of utility bills, wondering why you’re here again.

Paperwork is cumbersome and call centers tedious. Any kind of wait degrades the experience. The Signicat study found that nearly three-quarters of Europeans want their banks to provide fully digital onboarding, with a majority saying they would likely sign up for more products at the provider if such a system were in place.

Seen in this light, failure to streamline an early experience like registering for a new product threatens to compound your opportunity costs left, right, and center. Improving remote onboarding meanwhile promises to cut abandonment rates, boost long-term usage and inspire positive word of mouth.

Go mobile for superior customer journeys.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to remote enrollment. Every bank must address the specific concerns and technical realities of its market. It is best to consult with each customer to determine the best approach for them. That said, one thing is very clear: the smartphone, uniquely identified and adequately protected, comes packed with all the functionality necessary to deliver a smooth remote onboarding while ensuring that applicants are who they claim to be.

Using the phone’s capabilities intelligently, you can lift the burden from your customers of gathering paperwork, filling in forms, visiting a branch to have their ID verified or waiting for your administrative staff to process their requests and your call center to contact them with further questions or instructions. The device’s camera can also help avoid manual input of data during registration. (In a 2015 study for Mitek Systems, a mobile capture specialist, Aite Group compared mobile-based credit card applications using a picture of a driver’s license versus manually inputting the license’s eight to 10 digits. It concluded that the camera-based option would reduce abandonment significantly — probably by well in excess of 25 percent.)

The Goldilocks Principle of mobile self-registration.

In designing the optimal mobile onboarding process, ask yourself: Is it too hard for many of your customers to bother completing, too soft on security or is it just right in addressing both concerns?

I’m calling this the Goldilocks Principle of remote enrollment, staged below as three real-world options for mobile-based onboarding of existing bank customers.

Option 1: QR code at the ATM or point-of-sale

  1. Your customer downloads your mobile app from a trusted app store
  2. They present a payment card you issued them and input their PIN at an ATM or POS, which prints or displays a QR code
  3. They scan the QR code in-app

Too hard! This option uses two factors of authentication, so is much more secure than the first one I described. It’s also obviously less convenient, because your customer has to travel to complete the process.

Option 2: PAN and CVV

  1. Your customer downloads your mobile app from a trusted app store
  2. They enter their bank account number (or a government-issued ID number of some kind)
  3. They input the CVV number at the back of a payment card you issued them

Too soft! This option is extremely convenient to the customer, since they don’t have to go anywhere to complete the process. It is also the least secure option, because it relies on a single factor of authentication: knowledge.

Option 3: Card and PIN

  1. Your customer downloads your mobile app from a trusted app store
  2. They scan a payment card you issued them in-app
  3. They enter their standard PIN in-app

Just right! This option, in most cases, is both convenient and highly secure. First, the customer doesn’t have to go anywhere. Second, the process uses two factors of authentication: possession and knowledge. In implementation, a ISO-1 compliant PIN block technology securely captures the knowledge factor — the PIN — and transmits it to your backend systems over a fully out-of-band encrypted channel.

One financial services customer recently saw average daily app registrations climb 374 percent after deploying a card-scanning enrollment solution, with a record of 15,097 registrations on one day earlier this year!

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