Secure Payments in Real Time: You Can’t Have One Without the Other


In the race for faster payments, it seems that many consumers place a higher value on convenience over security. This doesn’t mean banks’ focus on security is or should be any less critical. Rather, it highlights the need for authentication to become more than just a seamless experience for the consumer. It also needs to be both invisible and deterministically consistent.

Any bank’s plans to offer real-time payments is unquestionably accompanied by initiatives to ensure fraud mitigation can also occur in real time. Most fraud programs in place today are simply not built to support the imminent speed of payments. While banks already have access to many sophisticated systems that make real-time payments technologically possible, are they equipped to guarantee funds are sent to and received by the correct, authorized individual? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Accommodating customers’ desire for faster funds availability means putting them at the center of authentication process. The risk banks must mitigate as they strive for a faster payments process lies in confirming that the person transacting is the right person, transacting on the right account. With millions of customer interactions daily, organizations must be able to authenticate who is interacting, and on what device. This information is critical to assessing the risk of a specific transaction and deploying optimal authentication technologies accordingly.

Authenticating consumers also requires fast, broad access to a variety of industry data sets. There is no way for a single financial institution to gain a complete financial picture of a consumer. Instead, a broad and collaborative view of identity and transaction activity creates the type of holistic customer profile needed to quickly authenticate.

Lastly, behavioral biometrics are proving essential to the introduction of a real-time payments ecosystem. How a person interacts within an app, and even with his or her mobile device itself, is quickly becoming a critical risk management factor that banks need to understand to successfully launch their real-time payments offerings. If not already, banks should be exploring biometrics as part of a multi-factor authentication strategy, to leverage —what you do’ characteristics in concert with those indicating —what you know’ and —what you have.’

Authentication is not about mitigating fraud at certain points in time–it should be ongoing. Continuous authentication is important to facilitating faster, safer payments for a couple of reasons. First, fraud doesn’t necessarily occur at the onset of a transaction; organizations must be equipped to detect fraud at any stage of the transaction. Additionally, only when authentication is continuous can it truly remain in the background, requiring the consumer to do nothing more than assume his or her normal behavior.

By focusing on putting the right technology and authentication capabilities in place first, banks will be able to provide the faster payments environment that customers want. Instead of looking at security as a distinct challenge, consider how enhanced security and authentication enable faster payments and create the most convenient payments experience possible.

Eric Woodward