Mobile phone addiction

Our risky mobile addiction

Can passive biometrics and behavioral analytics help protect us from ourselves?

It’s true. Many are now unabashedly addicted to their mobile devices. The appeal of always-in-touch interaction, facts-on-command, 24-7 retail gratification and entertainment on a whim have all helped make the mobile handset our constant digital companion. Unfortunately, all of this instant gratification has desensitized many to some important long-standing social norms and niceties. (Checking email or a game score in line at the grocer or the airport gate? Why not! Checking them on a date or at a serious or even solemn occasion? Better not!)

Our phones are now extensions of ourselves and are primary channels for some of our most intimate and utilitarian interactions, but they’re not without certain risks. Everyone’s heard stories of, or can think of,  about impulsive social media posters having to express remorse for and take-back an occasional impromptu, ill-considered remark.

Likewise, the perpetual ability to transact on mobile, coupled with the massive expansion of e-commerce marketing to mobile users can also leave a person vulnerable, but to buyer’s remorse, not social remorse.  And that buyer’s remorse isn’t just the result of poor purchasing decisions — although that cute that $180 horse-shaped vegetable peeler does seem just a little tough to cost justify after the fact, doesn’t it?

Just as too many people haven’t securely password protected their mobile devices, so too, millions of us also transact through and unknown networks, and in otherwise non-secure ways, entirely forgetting or ignoring the fact that our credit card details and other personal information are put at risk. It’s no surprise that the use of mobile wallets is expanding. Payments made via mobile devices in the United States are expected to total $90 billion by 2017 – a 700% increase from the $12.8 billion spent in 2012, according to Forrester Research.

It’s in the interests of banks, financial institutions, and merchants to help resolve and ease these security fears, both through incentives and education. And,  while they’ve decried data breaches and ensuing fraud and identity theft, banks find themselves having to balance the needs of customers to have innovative frictionless experiences, while still providing real security that protects them from the inevitable identity fraud that results from breaches. This puts them in the position of having to find solutions that not only satisfy the need for security but also ensure customer loyalty and trust.

Can institutions offer more secure payments and better protect customers from various types of fraud by driving the adoption of mobile wallets? Yes, they can, but the institution or merchant must be able to fully trust that the user conducting a transaction is actually who they say they are. And that’s where advanced user behavioral analytics (UBA) comes in. UBA establishes such a bond of familiarity and trust between the organization and the user that if a thief tries to use a victim’s exact credentials and authentication measures, hundreds of subtle variations in their interaction will expose them, triggering the transacting institution to challenge and reveal the fraudster. The bank can quickly spot and stop bad actors attempting to cycle stolen card details.

Behavioral analtyics — yes, you really are what you do!

Passive biometrics and behavioral analytics profiles a user’s identity from observing their natural behavioral interactions and an array of unique characteristics, a major leap forward from the current standard of identifying someone by what device they’re on or who they claim to be. As a result, fraud becomes far more difficult to successfully execute, and normal ‘change events’ such as device swap-outs and upgrades become far less disruptive.

Passive biometrics are non-intrusive. It’s called “passive” because observes a user’s interactions transparently with a given mobile device, or web portal, and uses machine learning to understand them based on their behavior, history, location plus hundreds of other data points without collecting any personal information. The result is a foundation of immediately actionable information that enables rapid detection and response to risk and fraud attempts, while more stringently protecting the user’s privacy and security.

So how will consumers know which of the 20 or so mobile wallets now available they should choose? That’s where their banks and institutions come into the picture. Those who invest in strengthening their bonds with their customers by adopting UBA will also help their customers make the wisest and best possible choice for securing their mobile digital lives through the additional layers of authentication that passive biometrics and behavioral analytics offers.

Now, if they could only also do something to help out with impromptu ‘bad posts’ and unfortunate selfies…


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