Do ‘Know Your Customer’ programs really work?

biometrics and banking CSC Blogs

“Know me? No? It’s me!”

Every time I walk into an establishment where I hold some sort of loyalty card, I wonder if “they” really “know me.”

That got me to thinking about Know Your Customer (KYC) programs. More and more, financial institutions are performing KYC, not to really get to know you, but to check off that they followed yet another mechanical process.

Recently, I ran into a very good friend of mine that I had lost touch with for almost 30 years. When we met (quite by accident) we almost instantly (well, really about 10 seconds) recognized each other. We didn’t need a friendship loyalty card to help us remember each other. So how on earth did we KNOW each other?

An institution with which you transact every single day, using credit cards, financial accounts and so on, needs a KYC program to attempt to know you — and yet someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in 30 years is known in an instant.

I am not belittling the value of a KYC. But if even at a superficial level it is failing, then is it really any more valuable than a checklist?

(I once learned a long while ago that “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck” (See: Duck Test.) Maybe its time these institutions learned the truth behind that statement.)

Let’s imagine this scenario: I walk up to my bank’s ATM, ask it to give me 100 dollars and it dispenses my money. No card, no PIN, nothing. Or for that matter, I go to my favorite store, ask to buy an item, take it and leave, without showing a loyalty card, credit card, anything. Why aren’t our experiences more like that?

After all, these institutions know so much about us and have access to technology that can capture our face and voice biometrics, and attach that information to our credit cards (which, in many instances, they issue!). Asking anything else from us should be truly extraneous at this point.

Now, go back to my ATM example. The ATM sees me through the camera and can identify me, completing my transaction. Why doesn’t it work that way today?

Is it because institutions think we have evil twins lurking around? Or, in an attempt to not risk false identification, they make it inconvenient and never get to truly “know” us.

Won’t anyone confidently ID me?


How biometrics will transform the brand experience

The Importance of Biometrics in a Regulatory Submission

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