Risk-based authentication’s value proposition

September 30, 2009 by Keir Breitenfeld

In my last blog posting, I presented the foundational elements that enable risk-based authentication.  These include data, detailed and granular results, analytics and decisioning.  The inherent value of risk-based authentication can be summarized as delivering an holistic assessment of a consumer and/or transaction with the end goal of applying the right authentication and decisioning treatment at the right time.  The opportunity, especially, to minimize fraud losses using fraud analytics as part of your assessment is significant.

What are some residual values of risk-based authentication?

1. Minimized fraud losses involves the use of fraud analytics, and a more comprehensive view of a consumer identity (the good and the bad), in combination with consistent decisioning over time.  This analysis will outperform simple binary rules and more subjective decisioning.

2. Improved consumer experience.  By applying the right authentication and  treatment at the right time, consumers are subjected to processes that are proportional to the risk associated with their identity profile.  This means that lower-risk consumers are less likely to be put through more arduous courses of action, preserving a streamlined and often purely “behind the scenes” authentication process for the majority of consumers and potential consumers.  In other words, you are saving the pain for the bad guys — and that can be a good thing.

3. Operational efficiencies can be successful with the implementation of a well-designed program. Much of the decisioning can be done without human intervention and subjective contemplation.  Use of score-driven policies affords businesses the opportunity to use automated authentication processes for the majority of their applicants or account management cases.  Fewer human resources will be required which usually means lower costs.  Or, it can mean the human resources you possess are more appropriately focused on the applications or transactions that warrant such attention.

4. Measurable performance is critical because understanding the past and current performance of risk-based authentication policies allows for the adjustment over time of such policies.  These adjustments can be made based on evolving fraud risks, resource constraints, approval rate pressures, and compliance requirements, just to name a few.  Given its importance, Experian recommends performance monitoring for our clients using our authentication products.

In my next posting, I’ll discuss some best practices associated with implementing and managing a risk-based authentication program.

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