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Smooth Onboarding vs. Platform Security: The End of a Long-standing Dilemma

Fergal Parkinson

5 min read
An advertisement featuring an article on balancing onboard customers and platform security by Fergal Parkinson, with a graphic of a card labeled "Sign Up.

A friend of mine went to the Derby at Epsom earlier this month: the 244th meeting of the world’s most historic horse race. It was a fine sunny summer’s day on the Surrey Downs – the epitome of the image the race brings to mind.

But as the big race approached things hadn’t gone smoothly. Firstly, my friend hadn’t realized that they had brought the start time forward by a couple of hours to avoid it clashing with football’s FA Cup Final – which was itself delayed this year – so his group was already running late. Then they got caught in terrible traffic – there was a train strike causing added pressure on the great British motorway system. Finally, there were political protests at and around the track meaning entry procedures slowed down to accommodate extra security checks.

All of these factors combined to mean that, with ten minutes to go before the start, he and his party were still outside the course. And as they tried to get to the entrance, they found themselves alongside the perimeter on the hill above the main stand, right by the track on Tattenham Corner, when the horses were doing their warmups – and they realised they could watch the race from there. Two or three horses ran past, and he admired one in particular, a fine, unusually dark, almost black bay with a white blaze.

In all the rushing he hadn’t had a chance to check the runners, read the form and all of that race day mental prep, so he just noted that fine looking horse’s number, four, and set about trying to place a bet.

My friend only bets on the occasions when he’s at the races, using the track side bookies, so he didn’t have a betting app on his phone and had to install one if he was going to have an interest in what was about to happen.

Thankfully for him the phone signal was strong enough and the registration process simple enough that he was able to do this with relative ease. It took under three minutes to create his account, make his selection, add funds from his bank account and place his bet, all done before his horse had cantered back down hill to the start line for the off.

Because, of course, that horse, Auguste Rodin, went on to win, at 9/2, in a thrillingly close finish.

And my friend pocketed a tidy £225 as a result.

The reason I tell you all this is not to make you jealous – it made me jealous as my luck in these things never matches this – but because it rather neatly illustrates a point about the tech-field that we in 2023 operate in.

You see there is a very good chance the company he registered with to place his bet is one that uses TMT Analysis in its client on-boarding vetting procedures. So, it was maybe us who checked my friend’s telco account details in a hurry to confirm he was legitimate and who he said he was. This was our small part in helping him pick his winner on the day.

The gambling industry has come, probably justifiably, under greater and greater pressure over recent years on the question of accountability: to ensure that it’s not allowing under-18s to bet, to establish that its customers aren’t insolvent and placing bets they cannot afford, and so on.

They’ve faced record fines from the industry regulator when they have failed in these contexts so they have every incentive to do everything they can to get it right.

Which is why it is perhaps ostensibly surprising that my friend was able to sign up and gamble so quickly. How did they do it?

Verify customers onboard secure tmt analysis

The reason that he didn’t have to go through the time consuming process of having to prove his identity by, say, having to upload bank statements, a couple of domestic bills, wage slips and so on, while standing by the side of the road, was because all of the data that such cumbersome processes could have provided were already available digitally when he first started signing up, including via his mobile phone account through the number he was using to apply.

He’s had that same phone number since I first met him nearly 20 years ago – consumers’ relationships with their personal mobile number are now much more enduring than with any address – and that means he’s got an extensive data footprint, which can be scanned in a microsecond.

We call our most cutting-edge product in this field Verify.

It does exactly as the name suggests: by sifting intelligence from multiple sources – from the telecom companies themselves, from official data points such as electoral rolls, commercial networks and more – it is able to, in effect, assess how trustworthy his mobile history makes him – and assign that number a score.

In this way Verify allows us to accurately confirm in a split second that the person associated with that phone is genuine, the account is not likely to being used fraudulently and is behaving normally. If the resulting assessment falls below an agreed risk threshold, the new client will be asked for supplementary information – but the vast majority of legitimate and desirable new customers will be, as the company desires, allowed in quickly and friction free.

In this case my friend didn’t need to carry around a copy of his water bill or tax records to do this – and our findings will be much more accurate and in real time than any cumbersome analogue attempt at the same.

These tailored checks happen so quickly that the new customer isn’t even aware they are taking place – in my friend’s case they would have been completed before he had even moved onto the Derby page on his new betting app to find horse number four.

This epitomises what is meant by ‘seamless onboarding’.

And this is possible because, with that 20-year user history, his mobile account and device is the most reliable and consistent data-source associated with him – and gives insight into everything from confirming his details to the likelihood of fraud in a second.

For many years companies at this point in the relationship with a new client faced a binary choice between properly vetting them – and potentially losing them – if it took too long to sign up and they got bored or went elsewhere.

My friend’s Epsom story reveals how this is no longer the invidious choice it once was. Now businesses can have both the highest standards and the slickest, fastest onboarding.

It’s a big win – win!

Last updated on April 23, 2024


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