The other side to 2FA

Banks should offer the enhanced security as a customer acquisition tool, a Datamonitor study shows.

Think opportunity, instead of cost.

A recent study conducted by analyst house Datamonitor and sponsored by RSA Security, revealed that consumers who were more confident in the levels of authentication, were more likely to increase their transactions in Internet banking.

The study, which surveyed 750 consumers across India, Singapore and Australia, found that respondents were willing to use a new authentication method, beyond the standard user name and password.

"Over 75 percent of respondents want more robust authentication," said Karl Hicks, director of consulting operations for Datamonitor Asia-Pacific.

However, respondents had limited perception of what types of security methods were offered, reflecting a gap between consumer expectation and market delivery, Hicks said.

Geoff Noble, banking and finance specialist with RSA, said that banks should stop viewing two-factor authentication (2FA) as a burden and a cost, and as an opportunity for them to differentiate their customers' Internet banking experiences.

Banks should stop viewing two-factor authentication (2FA) as a burden and a cost, and as an opportunity for them to differentiate their customers' Internet banking experiences.

Acknowledging that some banks, despite knowing that customers want better authentication, are looking for more justification or returns on investment, Noble said these financial services providers should change their mindsets.

"See it as a marketing strategy," he advised, pointing out that a bank could use 2FA as a way to gain new customers.

According to the Datamonitor survey, over 90 percent of respondents in India wanted to sign up for a stronger authentication protocol, and of this, 60 percent would do it proactively. The numbers were almost similar in Singapore and Australia, where 90 percent said they would sign up and fewer than 50 percent of respondents would be proactive about doing so.

The survey findings reflect opportunities--and threats--to banks, depending on which side of the fence they are on.

Hicks noted that of those who wanted better authentication, between 70 percent and 80 percent of respondents across all three countries said they may migrate to banks that offer such services.

Banks should, therefore, start looking at 2FA from their customers' point of view and if they want to retain their customer base.

Indeed, 2FA should be viewed by banks as a way to differentiate their Internet banking services, and one bank believes it has done the right thing to offer its customers not just one or two, but three different options.

"While 2FA may be mandated by the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore), the way to implement it is not mandated," said Patrick Chew, head of delivery for OCBC Consumer Financial Services.

"We feel that by offering customers choices, what we've done is we've differentiated ourselves from the pack, in terms of making the online experience for our customers more secured and hassle-free," Chew added.

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