Inspired by this Charles Gaddy original.
Considering the recent passing of Ginger Baker, I struggled with making Cream or ZZ Top the main thumbnail for this post. As you can see, ZZ Top won. I suppose it’s all about recognizability and clickbait. Cold world…
Think of your favorite 3-piece band. If you’re a classic rock fan you might be thinking of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Rush, or Thin Lizzy. Maybe you’re into some punk stuff like The Beastie Boys, Blink-182, or Sublime. The Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, and Rascal Flatts all come to mind for country music. And I think my mother would disown me if I didn’t include the BeeGees here (BIG ’70s disco fan). If you’re thinking this is an extremely desperate attempt to make identity verification relevant, allow me to reel off a few more names: The Police, Destiny’s Child, Nirvana.
Alright, relevance established.
There are many ways to identify someone: a handshake, biometrics, document verification, proof of liveliness, and eIDV, just to name a few. Depending on the use case, a company will address some combination of the following questions when assembling an identity verification program:
- Does this person exist? (Rhythm: Drums and Bass)
- Is this person who they say they are? (Lead Guitar)
- Can I trust this person? (Vocals)
The questions a company chooses to focus on will shape their onboarding process, mirroring how individuals in a 3-piece play together, making music.
First, we need to figure out who will hold everything together- we need a rhythm section. We’ll lay the foundation by addressing Question 1: “Does this person exist?” Determining if given information represents a real person is the first step in deciding if an individual should or shouldn’t be onboarded. Electronic Identity Verification (eIDV) is a great answer to our first question, a solid foundation for building our ensemble. Leveraging reference data from government, credit, and telco sources effectively determines if a person exists (in most developed nations). Why should a potential customer be asked to provide a scan of their passport (and prove they are who they say they are) if the information they submit can’t be found in any passport registry (or effectively prove they exist). With a steady, in time rhythm established, we can move on to some more flashy members of the band.
Our guitar player addresses Question 2: “Is this person who they say they are?” A compliment to the rhythm section, ensuring a person is who they say they are adds an extra level of assurance in the verification process. Biometrics are a great example of proving this question. You are testing to see if features (fingerprints, retinas, faces) of an individual match those of who they claim to be. Often times flashier than a drummer or bassist, groundbreaking biometric technology soaks in much of the limelight, like a strong lead guitar.
The capstone of our group, the singer, ensures we should do business with an individual by determining if he or she is trustworthy. All transactions hinge on some level of trust, and in an evermore globalized world, establishing trust can be tricky. Someone might supply a name, address, date of birth, and national ID that all match records in varying databases, fingerprints that indicate they are in fact who they claim to be, but what if this person is a known con artist? Depending on risk tolerance, there might be a need for extensive trust measures. Watchlist, sanctions screening, negative news, and even credit scoring are great indicators of who to trust. Platforms that analyze device IDs and IPs go a step further in answering this final question, perhaps even indicating how much you can trust one individual compared to another. By tracking devices with known associations to fraudulent activities, a company has greater visibility into who to trust before any risk has been assumed.
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose a pre packaged 3-piece as your identity verification solution. The luxury of hand picking your rhythm section, lead guitarist, and singer is a beautiful thing because, lets be honest, no 3-piece is in contention for the title of “Best Band Ever.” You can pick the best possible eIDV platform on the market, the best biometrics solution, and the best IP tracing software, all from different companies, in order to craft a solution that is perfectly tuned to your organization’s unique needs. You can have John Bonham and Paul McCartney holding down the rhythm section with Prince singing and playing guitar. That would be quite the eclectic group, but you get the point.
Of course this analogy isn’t perfect. Most companies required to verify customer identities won’t answer all of these questions, the solutions mentioned are not an exhaustive list, sometimes your lead singer also plays bass. However, no approach to identity verification is perfect either. Large enterprises will no doubt have a world class power trio verifying customers, while startups will probably opt for a one man band. And thats fine- some people like heavy metal, some people like smooth jazz.