Is facial recognition verification really secure enough?

Officially well into the digital age, there is a wave of identity verification technologies sweeping the market, but determining whether one will strike the right balance between security and convenience for the consumer can be tricky.

The evolution of identity verification

Traditionally, verifying your identity for a service such as applying for credit, setting up a bank account, or transferring funds is lengthy. Often requiring visits into branch with original documents (e.g. utility bills, bank statements, birth certificate or passport), it is an inconvenient process which can take up a significant amount of time for the consumer (as well as many man hours for the business).

Digital advancements have already influenced a shift in attitudes towards identity verification and processes are beginning to change. Many businesses offer the option to scan and submit documents via a mobile device, eliminating the need to go into store, however this does mean that an additional layer would be required to verify that the user is the owner of that document. The level of importance placed on convenience and efficiency has steadily increased over the recent years, made evident by the introduction of fingerprint scanning by Apple into the consumer market in 2013, and facial recognition in 2017.

A natural progression was to include these methods into banking options, for example utilising biometrics for mobile pay or facial recognition to access online banking, but is this really as secure as it is claimed to be?

A number of financial companies have incorporated facial recognition into their identity verification processes, such as Revolut who request the user to take a selfie in combination with submitting a picture of an official ID card (e.g. driving license), and HSBC who introduced the capability for customers in China to authorize payments, transfer funds, and add new payees to their account via facial recognition.

Where facial recognition falls down

While facial recognition ticks the box of being convenient and user-friendly, there are some questions that cannot be ignored. For example, whether you could pass the facial recognition verification stage without actually being the biometric owner of the claimed identity. It has been demonstrated that it is possible to gain access to a service which requires facial recognition by presenting a photograph of the individual, which could easily have been gained from the internet.

Despite advancements in some facial recognition software – particularly in the new iPhone X which uses infrared sensors and 3D scanners to ensure it cannot be tricked by photographs, Apple has confirmed that their Face ID software would be confused by identical twins, therefore there is still a risk of impersonation fraud.

With this in mind, the sole use of facial recognition to verify a person’s identity is clearly flawed – particularly for accessing anything considered sensitive or high-risk like banking. However, it could be useful as part of a multi-pronged approach.

The Solution

While we have already discussed official documents and biometrics as methods for verifying identity, there is a third method we have yet to mention which is verifying digital data attached to the user. Offering consumers the option to leverage their digital footprint provides an additional level of security without adding friction to the user journey. Through advanced text analytics, solutions such as what Hello Soda offer analyse the quality, quantity and significance of data in order to corroborate a user’s identity claim in real-time, effectively and efficiently verifying that the user is the owner of the submitted document or selfie.

Want to find out more about any of these three methods, and how you can use any combination for secure and convenient identity verification? Get in touch to arrange an informal chat or demo.


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Money2020: Hello Soda’s Round-up

Earlier this week we had the pleasure of exhibiting our ID and personalised data solutions at the 3rd Money2020 Europe in Amsterdam.

Taking place over the course of 3 jam-packed days, starting first thing Monday 4th June and running until Wednesday afternoon, the event saw the largest tech organisations showcasing their new user-friendly technology for the financial market.

The future of package travel marketing

Personalisation in a perfect world

It has been shown on numerous occasions that personalised communications result in higher engagement, conversion, and retention rates. But this doesn’t just mean marketing to consumers solely based on their previous travel habits or their demographics, personalisation is far more than that.

Travel marketing that is personalised and tailored well should act as a concierge service, guiding the consumer to their ideal package with as little work required from the customer as possible. In a perfect world, you will be able to understand a consumer’s motivations behind travelling, who they are travelling with, what locations they frequently visit, and the activities they enjoy. In person (and online via surveys), it is easy to ask the right questions to get the answers you need: are they looking for a city stag do with their mates, a romantic seaside getaway, or a family holiday with lots to do for their young kids?… But what if you didn’t need to ask the questions to get the answers?

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

There is an incredible and ever-growing amount of data that, if analysed correctly, can provide a window into consumers’ lifestyle, behaviour, interests, and personality. A lot of current personalisation efforts rely solely on cookie tracking and purchase history to make assumptions about what they may like to see. However, these alone will not provide you with any true insight into the individual themselves or their motivations for travelling. What is required is a deeper insight at an individual level to enhance your CRM, browser and transactional data and build a fuller picture of your customers and what they want. So how can we access this additional level of data?

Collaborating to create a bespoke experience

The new GDPR coming into force this month creates new challenges for travel companies wishing to market to consumers, meaning that retaining customers and improving conversion rates are a top concern. Changing the landscape of the marketing industry, the new rules place emphasis on consent and transparency of what data is being used and what it is being used for.

While gaining explicit consent may seem like a hurdle, many consumers are happy to share their data when it is beneficial to them. For example, 36% of consumers would be willing to share personal information if it resulted in more tailored personalised experiences.

Hello Soda’s solution PROFILE has the joint benefit of enabling you to gain unique relevant consumer insights while at the same time running on an explicit consumer consent process through which the consumer can choose to connect their digital footprints as an alternative to manually inputting information to register or log in. This way, not only does the consumer experience a smoother process – with necessary registration information pre-filled – you gain a true view of them as an individual so that you can better personalise how you market to them. Discover which of your customers are ego-travellers and which want a budget trip, which want culture and history and which want activities, and which prefer city-breaks versus seaside getaways.

Join the discussion!

Want to find out more? Join my next webinar to discover and discuss how to address the challenges of how to connect with more customers in a GDPR compliant fashion and how to gain the kinds of insights mentioned in this blog.


We’re going to Money20/20 Europe

Following the success and fun we had at this year’s events, including ICE Totally Gaming and SXSW, we can finally announce that Hello Soda will be exhibiting at Money20/20 Europe for the first time!

Hello Soda will be present throughout the event in Amsterdam – you will be able to find us at Stand L45 from Monday 4th June through to Wednesday 6th June. Pop by to find out more about how your company could benefit from the ID and Personalisation big data solutions that we have to offer.

Three of our big data specialists will be attending the event from our Manchester HQ and would love the chance to catch up with other businesses.

The future of money

We’re excited to hear talks on payments, artificial intelligence and data analytics – all areas that we’re experts in. Let’s catch up while we’re there and build the future of money together.

Our diaries are filling up quickly, so get in touch now to booking a meeting with the team, or simply pop down to our stand for a quick chat.

We look forward to seeing you there!


The Future of Identity Verification

Recent research reveals that an astonishing majority (84%) of financial services in the UK are concerned about their identity verification capabilities, and rightly so.

No consumer is likely to sing praises about the verification processes currently in place in a lot of institutions, a common example being providing a recent utility bill.

With sharp advancements in technology across a vast majority of sectors, it’s a wonder why identity verification in many still rely on traditional methods such as official documents.

Financial institutions need to consider the evolving needs of consumers, predominantly Millennials and generation Z, both typically lacking in traditional data such as credit history. These populations are in danger of finding themselves stuck in cycles where they put off big purchases such as cars or houses because they lack adequate credit for financial support, and therefore fail to build up a credit history.

An age-old problem

Millennials reportedly earn 20% less in salaries than the Baby Boomer generation, and as a result, many are putting off significant purchases that would actually help them to build credit such as houses and cars. The lack of credit history means that a large amount of this generation – and possibly even more of Generation Z – class as thin-file and, as a consequence, find themselves unable to access services such as traditional loans, rental agreements and mortgages.

So what does the future hold?

Big Data = Big Possibilities

There’s a lot of talk about ‘Big Data’ but this simply refers to any large amount of unstructured data and is entirely meaningless without the adequate analytics tools to derive meaning from it.

There are huge amounts of digital data created daily, therefore a continued reliance on the same traditional sources as twenty years ago risks restricting access for consumers who could otherwise be verified.

Balancing Customer Convenience & Security

Customer’s data is extremely important to keep safe, and with fewer and fewer consumers finding themselves adequately covered by traditional sources alone, it is important to take into account alternative ones that we have available to us in the digital age. Consumers have become used to being able to access goods and services within a few simple swipes and clicks, and any requirements for more vigorous checks adds friction and can result in high drop-off rates throughout the process.

This is how leveraging a multi-pronged approach to analyse digital data in real-time (assessing the quality and quantity, as well as looking for corroborative data) can robustly verify identity quickly and efficiently all online with less friction than traditional methods. Harnessing alternative data sources throughout the verification processes can help boost inclusion and increase access for those currently excluded or restricted, helping them to invest in business and property and, in turn, the economy.

To find out more about how you can bring your identity verification processes up to speed, visit our product page or get in touch for a chat/ free personalised demo.


A Guide to SXSW: Comfy Shoes, Carbs & Caffeine

So my time in Austin for SXSW with Hello Soda is over and despite the overwhelming need to sleep for three days straight, it has been incredible.

For us techies, it all kicked off on Thursday 8th March and continued non-stop until, well, now. While the trade show ran from Sunday through to Wednesday, the Friday and Saturday before presented many opportunities not to be missed (a highlight for me being the Startup Crawl, brimming with innovative new businesses and likeminded attendees… not to mention the free drinks…)

Less than 24 hours after landing, Phil and Jack found a ping pong table…

Renowned for our ping-pong league back in the UK HQ, we couldn’t resist launching the international league when we spotted this table in the crawl… spoiler alert they were just as good (/bad) as they are in the UK.

After an incredibly busy Friday, Saturday was spent setting up for the trade show while my colleagues took advantage of the conference sessions that their Interactive badges allowed access to. Thanks to Industrious (where our Austin office is based), we were well prepared for days on our feet – top tip: wear trainers.


Barely seeing the inside of the apartment meant I was constantly on the go, but the resources available for exhibitors and attendees are enough to keep you going (you just need to know where to find them.) Coffee and pastries were constantly available in the exhibitor lounge in the trade show, and a bonus of being part of Industrious is the breakfasts and afternoon refreshments put out each working day. It’s safe to say I will need a break from coffee for a while and I don’t think I will need any more cake or pizza for weeks.

If you haven’t attended before, the trade show runs from Sunday to Wednesday, 10am – 6pm (ending at 2pm on Wednesday). The first two days promised a constant flow of traffic and many conversations, uncovering new challenges of businesses and discovering new applications for our solutions that we may not otherwise have found. Tuesday and Wednesday were predictably quieter but the meaningful discussions we experienced meant that the entire period was worthwhile participating in. The hours standing in one place can be gruelling so try to organise break opportunities with your colleagues to stretch your legs and have a sit down (I’ll say this again.. wear trainers!)

A bonus of attending the festival is that there is so much going on (maybe too much) so you never struggle to find something to do in the evening. While my colleagues enjoyed the perks of being badge-holders (including Steve Aoki headlining the closing party), I went on the search for some free music and was not disappointed. Take some time to search the free, unofficial events going on before you travel and plan a couple of priorities. Once you find one it’s easy to find the others (you can sleep when you get back home right?)

Now it’s time for a few days of focus and follow-up planning. Hopefully see you next year SXSW!



SXSW 2018: Goodbye hype, hello real-world applications!

SXSW celebrates creativity and innovation in film, music, and (most importantly for us) tech.

With the entire city turning into an artful , futuristic experience, there is no wonder it attracts visitors from all over the world. But what exactly is in it for businesses? Let’s go over last year’s noticeable themes and take a look at what might come next…

Let’s recap

VR experiences were abundant at last year’s trade show (and dotted around other locations), with NASA’s space journey attracting a steady flow of visitors. As one of the key themes of last year’s interactive part of the festival, it garnered a lot of interest however the practical applications remained unclear… 

AI and machine learning dominated the tech trade show and marketing sessions, with a heavy focus on the potential of artificial intelligence for the future of business. Although a hot topic, this was more exploratory as opposed to discussing any robust practical applications. AI is certainly a potentially valuable tool for businesses, but it’s important to use it in the right way.

What should we expect this year?

AI will certainly hold a strong position in 2018’s session topics, however, what is noticeable is the focus on the real-world applications of AI, particularly in marketing. In other words, we may be able to understand how can businesses actually utilise this emerging technology to connect with consumers and improve processes rather than just wow in awe of its power.

2017’s trade show saw a huge amount of new and emerging technology showcased, and the past year has seen so many innovations launched (such as Amazon Go), so it can be difficult to identify what’s going to stick around. What’s hype and what’s real? This year might just involve sifting through the buzzwords to find the gold.

Last but not least… how can businesses ensure that every decision they make is backed up by evidence? Making data-driven decisions is a priority for many brands and businesses as they consider how best to approach digital transformation and keep up with evolving consumer demands.

Want to catch up while we’re both in town? Drop me a message!


Hello Soda named one of BQs Innovation 100!

BQ and the Business Growth Hub have launched the Innovation 100, recognising some of Greater Manchester’s most innovative businesses, including Hello Soda, alongside other dynamic and disruptive businesses such as Apadmi, Response Tap, and Code Nation.

An even greater recognition was being identified by the panel as one of the 10 firms that are “making the greatest business impacts with their innovation and are wonderfully diverse” with an “extraordinary ability to innovate”.

We are very honoured to be included in this list and view it as continued recognition and support for our efforts and achievements in the tech space. Our ability to innovate and our determination and creativity as a business is what has allowed us to grow to the international disrupter we are now, and we will continue to innovate far beyond 2018.

Across Greater Manchester alone, Innovate UK has provided funding for over 600 innovation projects since 2004 and the North West is home to a highly innovative business community that are contributing to new discoveries every day.

BQ’s Bryan Hoare said: “We’re delighted to give companies the chance to see some recognition for the hard work they put into innovation in their businesses.

“Innovation is the key to unlocking future growth, job creation and prosperity for the region, and what these businesses are already doing is incredibly impressive in lots of ways.”

Chris Greenhalgh, head of innovation at Business Growth Hub, said: “It’s our aim with Innovation100 to raise the profile of those businesses innovating in different ways, inspiring others to innovate and achieve growth.”

“What the Innovation100 companies underline is that while innovation can often be related to products, it can also apply to developing disruptive business models, applying new processes and delivering new services. Innovation is across many different facets of business, across different sectors and different sizes of companies.”

View the full report here…


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