INTERVIEW: Conor White, President – Americas, Daon

Interview with Conor White, Americas Group President, Daon

FindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently spoke with Conor White, Americas Group President for Daon. The conversation begins with the company’s successful deployment of biometric security on the USAA mobile banking app, moves on to the company’s recent credit union industry awards, and finishes with an update on how Daon’s IdentityX platform is developing.

INTERVIEW: Conor White, President - Americas, Daon


Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): You have had a very busy year at Daon; to start off please tell us about the USAA mobile biometric banking deployment.

Conor White, President – Americas, Daon:  The USAA deployment is going superbly well.  USAA is a member owned organization so they really focus on the member experience. They are also a branch-less bank, so pretty much every interaction with their members is online.  They need the level of security that goes with being able to conduct almost any transaction online while at the same time optimizing the convenience and the member experience in the process.

Their requirements for both a positive customer experience and increased security led to us working together. USAA is a very innovative, forward leaning bank and they really they are constantly looking at new ways to improve the customer experience. They have developed a highly compelling offering with their new biometric mobile banking app.  We have deployed face and voice and also just recently fingerprint.  The rollout is a tremendous success with over 700,000 members actively enrolled and using the system – they are seeing incredible adoption rates in a very short period of time.

USAA has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from its users.  This is evident when you look at their Twitter feed and see what people are saying about them. They are pretty much the top ranked bank for customer service in the United States for the last fourteen years in a row. Their members are happy – because their interactions are both easy and secure.

FB: That is one of the great advantages of biometrics. The ROI that is received because you are getting rid of passwords and as we all know, this is a major problem for the call centers because a lot of the calls they receive are for password resets or “I forgot my password” or whatever.

Daon: Absolutely. In the industry we know the statistics and we talk about them often but people don’t realize the amount of money that banks spend every day on staffing and managing their call centers. It is also one of the most prevalent sources of attacks on banks. Social engineering of a call center call and getting the data that you need to impersonate somebody is often the easiest way to compromise an account.

If we use biometrics to implement true authentication of people and we are lowering the call center costs/times in the process, then both banks and consumers are happy.  Bank’s costs are lower and their security posture is better. Customers are not tied up unnecessarily on the phone and they are getting immediate attention and service.  I don’t know of anybody who enjoys picking up the phone to call customer support. I personally can’t stand it and I think everybody I know feels the same, so minimizing the time I spend authenticating through old, error prone ways is a good thing.

FB: We reported recently that there was a bit of a surprise with the USAA customers in that one of the demographics that really liked the biometric features were older users.  Can you fill us in on that?

Daon: Yes it was a surprise to a lot of people. What we are finding is that people in their senior years don’t like having to try and remember complicated passwords and PINs.  It’s a known fact that our memories tend to weaken with age.  But simply reading something on the screen for voice authentication or looking at a camera and blinking for facial authentication is very easy for them.

More and more seniors are getting tablets because they provide an easier way to read a book if you need to enlarge text.  So you see a lot more of these tablet form factors and phone form factors than you would imagine in the over 55 demographic.

You are also seeing that ease of use is a major benefit for them. They don’t have to remember a password or type something complex with their fingers and hands. They just pick the device up and authenticate in a very natural, human way.

FB: Fantastic feedback. You recently won several awards and contests and I think the Next Big Idea and the CUNA award all around this deployment, can you tell us a little bit about this?

Daon: Sure. The first one was the CUNA (Credit Union National Association) award. We were selected as the best technology at their Washington, DC conference. We didn’t actually realize that there was a competition; it was quite a surprise when they came to us and said: “We’ve been hearing great things about this from some of the people who have come to talk with you. Can you show us?” We, of course, showed it to them and were ultimately selected as “Best in Show”.

As a result of getting this award we were invited to the Next Big Idea competition at the NACUSO conference (National Association of Credit Union Service Operators). NACUSO had five companies, including Daon, present in a format similar to the popular television show “Shark Tank.”   Daymond John, one of the judges on Shark Tank, was a keynote at the conference and one of the judges. Rather than doing a PowerPoint presentation, we chose to actually demo the system. I described what IdentityX does, explained the benefits and showed the system in production to the 250 people in the audience plus the judging panel. Then they asked the audience to vote.

It was a very exciting couple of minutes because you can see the voting in real-time on the screen. In the end we won by a reasonable margin. There were some great companies in the competition – so we were very honored to win.  It has been quite the catalyst for us in the credit union marketplace.

FB: When we last spoke in February, IdentityX provided the world’s first universal authentication platform for mobile devices. Can you tell us how that is progressing?

Daon: We continue to expand the authentication offerings that plug into the IdentityX platform. Today you can have face, voice, Touch ID from Apple, Samsung fingerprint with the Galaxy S5 or S6, FIDO and any combinations of these. In our view there is no single authentication technology that is the best. It really depends on what your customers want and what your business supports in term of risk and assurance.

We continue to expand both the platform features as well as the actual component technology with which we authenticate. As you know we are a board member of the FIDO Alliance and we are very committed to the Alliance and to bringing choice to our customers.  FIDO is a choice that many customers want to make – and we are one of the companies that successfully went through the first interoperability conformance testing in April. We have a FIDO UAF server available for customers that want to choose that route, which again is very aligned to our strategy of giving our customers the framework with which they can plug in the different authentication capabilities.

FB: Congratulations on that.  It seems that FIDO is gaining tremendous momentum right now.

Daon: They are. We are starting to see organizations commit to FIDO, including companies that are manufacturing smartphones. This is a major step forward for the Alliance. With more biometric-capable smart phones becoming available, you are going to see the relying parties begin to offer FIDO authentication to their customers. Like we do with Touch ID, customers enjoy using Touch ID so we put it into our framework. It is the same thing with FIDO and the smartphones that support FIDO. You’ll see the same thing evolve very, very quickly.

FB: Thank you very much for sharing this breaking news with us and look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming shows, maybe the Money 20/20 conference in Vegas in the fall.

Daon: Absolutely Peter. I’m looking forward to it. We are definitely going to be at Money 20/20 and look forward to catching up.