To drive digital transformation, banks need their apps and services to offer a seamless user experience. Asking customers to navigate a complex log-in process can be a significant barrier to digital adoption.
FacePhi has developed Selphi, a service available on IBM® Cloud™, which uses facial recognition of customer photos to authenticate banking customers without needing to prompt them for passwords.
to authenticate a user during the online banking login process
faster onboarding for new banking clients with an agile cloud architecture
scalability as banks roll out the Selphi service to new customers
Business challenge story
Addressing the need for fast, secure access
As banks continue in their journey towards digital transformation, they face an inevitable dilemma. From a security perspective, their online banking apps and services need to be impenetrable: no unauthorized user can ever be allowed to gain access. But from a usability perspective, those same apps and services need to be as easy as possible for genuine users to access.
Traditionally, online banking services have forced users to navigate complex login processes, memorize multiple passwords and security questions, use two-factor authentication tokens—in short, to jump through numerous hoops before they can even check the balance of their account. As a result, customers tend to log in infrequently, which means that the bank misses out on valuable opportunities to interact and build relationships.
How, then, can banks maintain the levels of security they need to combat fraud and cyber-crime, while making it quicker and easier for customers to access their accounts? The answer, according to Spanish startup FacePhi, is biometrics: the measurement and analysis of a person’s unique physical features.
Jorge Sanz, Business Director at the company, explains: “Biometrics is the future of fast, secure authentication. Harnessing the power of biometrics, banks and other companies can provide users with safe, rapid access to their systems by simply recognizing a user’s unique physical characteristics through photos, fingerprints, or the sound of their voice.”
As a pioneer in the field of biometric authentication, FacePhi has developed one of the most mature facial recognition systems available on the market today. This technology is at the heart of Selphi, an innovative service that allows customers to access their bank account by snapping a selfie with their smartphone, instead of having to enter usernames and passwords.
Selphi is designed to be embedded into the online and mobile services of financial services companies. The solution is already being used by a number of clients in Spain and Latin America, including HSBC Argentina, Banco Sabadell, Banco Pinchincha, and Entrust Datacard, and FacePhi is seeing significant interest from other potential clients around the world.
Typically, when FacePhi engages with a new client, it creates a proof-of-concept to demonstrate how Selphi can be integrated with the client’s existing systems—but setting up the infrastructure for these proof-of-concept projects was a relatively time-consuming process. To make it possible to onboard new clients quickly and efficiently, FacePhi wanted to find a way to accelerate the deployment of Selphi.
“Only IBM seemed to be able to deliver the full package: a flexible, affordable, stable cloud platform, combined with first-class support, technical expertise, and a brand that our clients trust.”
Making PINs a thing of the past
FacePhi saw potential in using a cloud solution to help accelerate time-to-market, simplify deployment, and reduce infrastructure costs for Selphi proof-of-concept projects. The startup began evaluating cloud solutions from Amazon, Microsoft and IBM.
Jorge Sanz recalls: “All three contenders were offering attractive technical solutions, but only IBM seemed to be able to deliver the full package: a flexible, affordable, stable cloud platform, combined with first-class support, technical expertise, and a brand that our clients trust.”
FacePhi selected IBM Cloud Virtual Servers its new deployment platform. IBM worked closely with the FacePhi team throughout the entire implementation process, helping to run several pilot projects and troubleshoot any issues before they had an impact on the company’s clients.
“The support from the IBM team was impeccable,” says Jorge Sanz. “In just a couple of weeks, we were up and running on the IBM Cloud, and we had our first clients online within a month.”
The main advantage of the IBM Cloud Virtual Servers for FacePhi is their flexibility. When the company needs to initial a proof-of-concept with a new client, it can provision an appropriately sized virtual environment in a matter of minutes.
“Performance and availability are important too,” says Jorge Sanz. “When you take a photo with Selphi, it converts the image into a unique pattern which is immediately sent to the bank’s servers—and within 36 milliseconds, the solution can confirm who you are. The IBM infrastructure helps us process the data quickly enough to enable a seamless experience for the end user.”
The cloud-based infrastructure runs all the components needed to support the Selphi solution during both proof-of-concept and production deployments. The IBM Cloud Virtual Servers support both the Selphi application itself, and associated services such as a file server and security and auditing tools.
Finally, all the information stored in the IBM Cloud is encrypted, enabling FacePhi to comply with stringent banking regulations, so both banks and users have full peace of mind that data is kept secure.
“In the past, it typically took a month to get a client on board with Selphi: with IBM Cloud, the turnaround time can be as little as a week.”
Winking at a successful future
By joining forces with IBM to launch Selphi as a cloud solution, FacePhi is now in a strong position to attract and onboard larger numbers of clients—and can complete the onboarding process up to 75 percent faster than ever before.
Jorge Sanz remarks: “IBM Cloud allows for much faster and easier implementation of proofs-of-concept, which helps us be more agile when a new client asks for our help. In the past, it typically took a month to get a client on board with Selphi: with IBM Cloud, the turnaround time can be as little as a week.”
Moreover, for clients who choose to run their production Selphi environment in the IBM Cloud, the platform provides near-instant scalability—making it easy for them roll out the visual authentication solution to thousands or even millions of customers.
Running Selphi in the IBM Cloud also means that the solution can take advantage of IBM’s sophisticated business continuity and disaster recovery features, enabling it to recover quickly in the case of a temporary system failure. This extra level of resilience also assists with compliance with industry standards.
Jorge Sanz elaborates: “IBM Cloud offers a fast and reliable deployment option for Selphi, with outstanding performance. On average, it takes less than a second for customers to access their bank accounts anytime, anywhere—which gives banks a key differentiator in terms of customer experience.”
Three of FacePhi’s 21 clients are already either using Selphi on IBM Cloud, or will be migrating their existing Selphi solution to the cloud platform in the near future. FacePhi expects this number to grow as more clients recognize the benefits of cloud deployment.
Jorge Sanz concludes: “IBM Cloud continues to be a strategic enabler to the ongoing success and expansion of Selphi. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with IBM even further in the future.”
“IBM Cloud offers a fast and reliable deployment option for Selphi, with outstanding performance. On average, it takes less than a second for customers to access their bank accounts anytime, anywhere—which gives banks a key differentiator in terms of customer experience.”
Founded in 2012 and based in Alicante, Spain, FacePhi is a global leader in facial recognition technology, and creator of the revolutionary Selphi visual authentication platform. The company specializes in solutions for the financial sector and is committed to helping banks around the world save money, attract clients, and build loyalty, while never compromising on data security.