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Customer onboarding: Who wins in the battle of speed vs safety?

Thanks to a growing number of digital financial service offerings in recent years, incumbent banks have refocused their energy on improving the speed and effectiveness of their onboarding process. The new digital kids on the block have a knack for making everything look easy by offering fast, shiny solutions that require only a few clicks.

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The number of clicks has become a key tool for measuring onboarding speed, which seems a compelling enough way to define success at first. With a closer look, this demonstrates two things. One, we’ve become obsessed with clicks. And two, this obsession is leading us up the garden path.

“When thinking about a new onboarding experience, it’s easy to push things aside in the quest for speed. But if you’re not careful, you’ll set up certain customer segments to fail.” 

Is speed the only important measure when it comes to opening a bank account? Or should banks be striving to create seamless and secure digital experiences for their customers? Let’s discuss.

Speed of onboarding shouldn’t compromise security. Ever.

Unfortunately, what people say they’ll do, isn’t always what they’ll actually do. While the importance of security has increased significantly over recent years, research still shows that, in the moment, customers place more value on speed than security – until of course they experience a breach first-hand or know someone close to them who has.

The fact prospective customers are attracted by the ability to sign up in 25 clicks or less is based on an implied expectation they can trust the institution they’re signing up with. As we’ve seen in recent months with some high-profile breaches, trust, if not carefully managed, can be easily lost. 

If you think identity theft isn’t a problem in Australia, let’s take a quick look at the numbers. 

  • In 2019, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported identity crime cost Australians an estimated $3.1 billion, up 17 per cent from 2016 
  • Approximately one in four Australians (25 per cent) has experienced misuse of personal information at some time in their lives
  • On average, an identity theft victim loses $300-$4000 per incident and spends 34 hours dealing with the consequences
  • The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) revealed it received more than 76,000 cybercrime reports in 2022 alone – a 13 per cent increase compared with the previous year

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With recent events at some Australian companies and a significant amount of data now available in the open market, it’s important to recognise not all onboarding flows are created equal. Traditional electronic verification processes simply validate that the set of personal information provided exists at a central bureau.

There is limited proof the actual person is in possession of the document holding this information, nor that the information belongs to the person accessing it. This means if your personal information falls into the wrong hands, it provides a pretty good key to a bank’s front door.

At ANZ, we’re looking to better protect our customers by asking them to provide a snap of their passport or their license to prove it is in their possession - and to take a quick selfie, which we match to the document to ensure it is legitimately theirs.

In addition to a range of layered fraud detection controls, it means we’re well-placed to prevent any one that’s not you opening an ANZ Plus account in your name (even if your data happens to have been compromised in a data breach somewhere else). 

It’s just a few more clicks to ensure your safety.

Speed of onboarding shouldn’t come at the expense of completion rates.

When thinking about a new onboarding experience, it’s easy to push things aside in the quest for speed. But if you’re not careful, you’ll set up certain customer segments to fail.

For example, many banks attribute their low click-rate to requiring only one identity document or a single residential address. This approach can reduce the number of clicks but can also decrease the likelihood someone newly arrived in the country or under the age of 18 successfully passing verification. 

Adding a secondary residential address or taking a copy of an ID document means we’re able to proactively address failed electronic verification attempts, without the need for the customer to leave their couch. We have one of Australia’s highest digital verification rates thanks to adding just a small number of additional clicks - resulting in more customers getting active with ANZ sooner and eliminating the need to visit a branch. 

Speed of onboarding shouldn’t be at the expense of getting the job done.   

It’s also clear from the research that not all onboarding processes are defined equally. The start and end points differ hugely. Some enable accounts to be funded, others don’t. Some provide card activation and PINs, others don’t. And some allow for higher-value payments to be made upon joining, while others don’t.

Of course you can finish the race more quickly if you draw the finish line earlier. However, we believe customers open bank accounts with an expectation of being able to use them straight away. That means being able to pay someone or purchase something as soon as they’ve joined.

We’ve worked hard to design an onboarding process that’s not only quick but allows customers to have a fully-funded account in just a few minutes and a virtual debit card ready for immediate use. There’s no requirement to register multi-factor authentication for higher-value payment transfer or wait for a card to arrive. 

Secure, speedy and simple.

Our ANZ Plus onboarding flow is fast. Customers can join the bank from anywhere, at any time, without visiting a branch in a safe and secure way in just minutes.

However success goes well beyond speed. We want to go as fast as possible without jeopardising first-time user completion, without putting customers identity at risk and without deferring customer effort to later stages.

In short, onboarding success means more than clicks. It demands a design that promotes security, speed and simplicity.

Gabe Steele is Join Value Stream Lead at ANZx.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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