What is the typical experience when buying stuff online? Establishing an account? Inquiring about an estimate for a home improvement project? 

Usually, these tasks involve typing some amount of personal information into fields on a webpage or app. But how does the merchant, bank, or service-provider know that you really are who you claim to be? Or that your intentions are sincere? Or if, perish the thought, you are being scammed or coerced? 



Pondering this question, I thought back to my first online transaction… probably around 1996, when I first signed-up for America Online. After inserting the ubiquitous cd-mailer, I clicked-on a few buttons, listened to the hissing and buzzing of my 28.8kb modem, and was soon-after entering my name and credit card number into blank fields. Within a few brief moments I was seeing and hearing, “You’ve got mail!” 

Come to think of it, how has the user experience of opening a new account or transacting online today all that different from twenty-five years ago? Despite the digital revolution that most of us have experienced over the past 3ish decades, that monotonous experience of drop-downs menus, answering questions, and sharing personal and financial information is seemingly timeless. 

Sure, there are thousands of new payment options, an entire anti-fraud industry, and a fair number of verification techniques that have evolved in the intervening years to help mitigate risk. But verification generally comes with friction. And despite the friction, losses from fraud and scams are increasing and trust is all but extinct.  

Meanwhile, today businesses and customers alike are more attuned than ever to their relationships. Business must understand their customers’ expectations and desires. And customers, more than ever, expect their preferred brands to exude authenticity and sincerity. A buying decision, or better yet, a decision to enter an ongoing financial relationship is rife with emotion and calculation. What does this company do? What is their performance record? Can I trust them to deliver for me? Do I like them? Am I intent on making this purchase?  

Have you ever left items in an Amazon or Ebay shopping cart, saving the buying decision for later? Have you ever hesitated before pushing the “pay” button, unsure if you will get what you are paying for? Do you really want an item, or can you afford it? 

These are emotional decisions.  

When my parents bought their first home, they sat across a desk from the mortgage officer at the local bank. He answered their questions, put them at ease, and began a loyal institutional relationship that is now fifty-years running. I have had seven mortgages in my adult lifetime. I once had a phone conversation with a mortgage officer while in the process of executing a rather complex transaction. My banking experiences have more resembled my America Online Experience than my parents’ first mortgage. 

Sure, the banks knew my credit score, income, and debt ratios enough to make adequate risk decisions. But did they leave additional business opportunities on the table? Probably. Were there institutions that did not win my business because the process was too burdensome or frustrating? Absolutely.  

Now, I’m not suggesting that in today’s economy we should go back to the days of the face-to-face meetings with personal bankers. But I am suggesting that customer emotions matter, and they can be indicative of important contextual factors on both sides of any transaction.  

But what emotions could possibly be gleaned from the impassive world of blank fields, drop-down menus, and submit-buttons? It turns out, quite a lot. 

Just as the twitch of an eyebrow may ‘tell’ an opponent in a poker game to go ‘all-in’; mouse-doodling, pauses, typing-speed and intervals, hesitations, phone-motion and a bunch of other behaviors can indicate emotions such as stress, aggravation, inquisitiveness, hesitation, or distraction… even propensity for risk.  

Today, many financial institutions are leveraging technology from BioCatch to help determine fraudulent intent and coercive account activity in real-time. More often, these same indicators are also used to transparently help verify identity and genuine intent, so that additional measures (friction) can be avoided; and institutions can move on to exceeding customer expectations, building trust, fostering great business relationships.  

Gleaning emotional insights from online activity can lead to greater clarity of risk and opportunity to build trust and foster better business relationships.  

Please check-out “Creating Trust and Ease with Emotional Insight in the Digital World” for a deeper look at how BioCatch is using AI and Cognitive Analysis to deliver Emotional Insights.  

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