Is the TSA in Charge of Banking and Shopping?

The Transportation Security Administration has been under fire recently and perhaps for some real good reasons. Airports, airlines and travelers are frustrated with the increasingly long wait times at the airports – an excruciatingly painful experience that will likely become worse as the summer travel season begins. Last week, I encountered this firsthand while returning to San Francisco from Atlanta. At the airport, I was greeted with a long TSA checkpoint line that snaked back to the ticketing kiosks.

While I managed to board my flight just in time, others weren’t so lucky. I spent the next few hours on the plane thinking about how we, as consumers, accept friction as part of our daily lives – constantly making the trade-off between security and customer experience.

Security and customer experience are intricately intertwined where the likelihood of high loss almost always accompanies a poor customer experience. When it comes to airport security, the cost of missing one bad actor is extremely high, therefore the customer experience for the rest of us suffers. For the most part, we are willing to put up with a long and arduous security screening process because the stakes are high.

For the most part, the world of banking and online buying is choked full of friction and is designed more on thwarting bad behavior than enabling good engagement and usage. Below are some of these commerce experiences that I have encountered firsthand which I consider to be similar to the TSA experience. Here, the systems are designed to reduce loss while things like top-line revenue and customer experience suffer:

  • I cannot withdraw more than $300 from my bank ATM in a single day (yes, I still use cash at times!). The same fixed daily withdrawal limit is apparently imposed on all bank customers, so I have to go inside the bank when I need more than the daily ATM limit.
  • A few months ago, I was buying a new car and wanted to make a down payment of $10K with my debit card at the car dealership. The transaction didn’t go through because of the current security and regulatory restrictions. To make a payment of more than $10K , I had to use a check!
  • Shopping online is literally the worst experience. Buying at many ecommerce shops and I encounter checkout friction like CVV, 3D Secure, security questions, etc.

Alternatively, lower risk scenarios have low or almost no customer friction.  For example, I don’t remember the last time I logged in with a password on Facebook, Twitter or Netflix’s smartphone apps. As a user, I have the option to specify that the apps always remembers my passwords. If I lose my phone, I’m willing to risk losing access and control of my social media and Netflix accounts in return for ease of use.

However, with the recent advancements in technology and machine learning, customer experience does not have to be sacrificed in order to maintain high security standards. It is now possible to offer both a superior customer experience and maintain high security. For example, Amazon’s 1-Click checkout and Apple Pay offer low customer friction through the use of advanced machine learning on the backend (full disclosure: I used to work at Amazon in the Trust and Safety team). These experiences can be depicted in a 2×2 below:

Sandeep Blog TSA 2x2 matrix

Here at Feedzai, we’ve built the most powerful machine learning platform for banks, ecommerce merchants sand payment providers so that they can offer the best customer experience while balancing their risk. While we can take care of your financial and commerce experiences, do you have any advice to TSA on how they can shorten the security line this summer? Tweet us @feedzai.

About the Author: Sandeep Grover is Head of Ecommerce at Feedzai, delivering advanced machine learning solutions from the cloud. After building Amazon’s risk products, Sandeep joined Feedzai where he now helps the world’s mightiest retailers, payment providers and banks keep their digital commerce safe.