The world of banking is becoming more digital and more global every day. Canadians no longer want to walk into a physical bank to transact business, and they expect their finances to easily cross international borders with them.

The shift to digital-only and mobile-first banking on a global scale raises one fundamental question: without face-to-face interaction, how can banks and financial service providers be sure their customers are who they say they are?

Technology like Trulioo’s is allowing digital “challenger banks” to compete with the traditional banking behemoths

Trulioo, founded in Vancouver in 2011, has made it their mission to provide a solution to this critical question. By providing secure access to hundreds of reliable and trusted data sources, they have created a global digital ID network for identity verification and authentication services in over 100 countries. Today, Trulioo can instantly verify the identities of over five billion people and 250 million companies around the world through a single API. 

“We think of ourselves as a catalyst for fintech,” says Trulioo General Manager Zac Cohen. “The most common use cases are know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering, with Customer Due Diligence (CDD) wrapped into that as well. Another use case of growing importance is trust, safety, and fraud prevention.”

Removing friction from banking, without sacrificing security

It is technology like Trulioo’s that is allowing digital “challenger banks” to compete with the traditional banking behemoths, while also meeting all of the essential regulatory requirements.

“Having instant digital access to reliable high-quality data through a single platform is critical to creating a robust online environment for both challenger banks and traditional banks,” says Cohen. “Challenger banks are starting from scratch, which can in fact be an advantage. From the very beginning, they can build in the new mobile-first technologies that traditional banks have struggled to integrate into their established systems.”

For Vancouver-based financial service provider Koho, secure KYC and CDD is essential for onboarding customers and providing a seamless mobile-first experience. With Trulioo’s technology, Koho is now able to take processes that would previously have taken hours or days, and complete them in seconds.

“People want an easy way to access financial services that would traditionally have involved face-to-face meetings and tons of paperwork,” says Cohen. “If we can book flights, shop, and hail a ride from wherever we are because of something as powerful as a cell phone in our pocket — why not banking?”

Expanding horizons: banking access is a social issue

Alberta-based challenger bank ATB-Brightside is leveraging this technology to go global and reach customers that have traditionally been underbanked or unbanked, such as new immigrants. This is more than just an untapped market — it’s an issue of social equality.

Banks that are going to be successful tomorrow cannot afford to ignore what is happening today.

“Individuals who are unbanked or underbanked don’t have the level of access to the digital economy or to financial services that most of us take for granted,” says Cohen. “Tools that can provide that access to those individuals can act as a great equalizer. Being able to verify your identity digitally is the pillar that allows that gap of financial inclusion to be bridged.”

As Canada’s demographics shift with growing immigration and large new cohorts of young people entering the workforce, banks that are going to be successful tomorrow cannot afford to ignore what is happening today. That means making banking accessible to those with less robust paper trails, and making banking convenient for those who prefer to use their phone as a portal for everything.

“We have to consider what Canada looks like today,” says Cohen. “We have so many millennials and we have so many new-to-country residents. We need to include them and make it easy for them to access financial services. If a financial institution is making things just as easy for those populations as for everyone else, they are going to win in the market.”