Covid-19 And The Touchless Digital Economy –– And Its Ironic Magnification of Online Friction

Sir James Murray, the renowned Oxford lexicographer, would surely be rethinking his “slips” of the word “friction” in today’s digital economy. After all, if Oxford’s view of friction (loosely paraphrased) is “the resistance experienced when two objects come in contact and attempt to move beyond each other” how can friction perhaps be related to a “touchless” digital interaction? Especially considering that the digital economy, which loathes friction and the resulting deal desertion, has worked so difficult to ensure a smooth ride for its returning customers. Right? However … what about all these new and frequently returning consumers and who are they?

New users, brand-new users, and more brand-new users

A couple of requiring functions have magnified the friction between a clean CX and validating identity like the global pandemic. Simply since March, the number of brand-new entrants into the digital economy has escalated and not because of some surprise that digital is the future however because they have very few other options.

Worried about exposure to the bug but:

  • Required stuff? Amazon has you covered … go on the internet
  • Need to pay your Vodafone mobile expense without touching something? Browse the web
  • Need to order groceries without going to Waitrose? Go on the internet

need to send out money to a relative without going to NatWest … go on the internet

But, what if you’re new to the digital economy? These suppliers that are all distressed to assist you with your shopping, banking, and eCommerce needs then have a problem. Do they trust this brand-new consumer and danger scams losses, or do they introduce friction and run the risk of transaction desertion? Additionally, what about the volume of returning consumers? Is the increased frequency legit or are these bad stars with stolen credentials? So, what do they do … they step you as much as make you show that you are you.

Who are you?

In the physical world, this conundrum is pretty easily answered. At the point of sale or identity confirmation, you present your highest most trusted form of identity within the context of that deal and, bingo, you’re done. The real world supplies a hierarchy of identity and deal context that is quickly figured out and makes sense. For instance, when you take a trip and are communicating with Border Control, your passport is the very best way to proceed. It is released by a relied on a federal government entity, has all of your important info, and is implicitly relied on. Beyond your DNA, it is your most relied on kind of identity. On the other hand, when you go to a local library, your library card is perfectly acceptable. Program up to surround control with your library card and you will face friction. Why? The context of that deals dictates the identity verification based upon the rely on the company.


Online, nevertheless, there are a number of challenges. Initially, you have multiple identities that must be harmonized to truly comprehend if you are you. Assuming e-mail as the least expensive common measure of identity, your work, personal, school, family, and spam email accounts all represent identities that you use to negotiate throughout numerous industries and services. You probably utilize your university email to message lecturers and to gain access to research papers online. You log in to your Amazon account with your individual email and utilize your business email to review your HR plan.

Each of these deals is distinct versions of you transacting with suppliers that verified your identity using their digital identity service. That raises an essential concern. Unless all of your online identities are harmonized, can anyone of them be trusted? A compromise of any among the identities threatens them all and increases the danger of scams.

Who can you rely on and how do you understand me?

Online, there is no identified and always trusted issuer of identity. Put another way, there is no hierarchy of identity. On the contrary, there is a whole digital identity supply chain each equipped with their own identity graph originated from their understanding of your activity. Often, that identity is an amalgam of the supplier’s direct interaction with you, 3rd party cookies, identity partner signals, publicly offered data, and behavior presumed and designed based on previous activity. But does anyone of them really understand the “entire” you?

Bye-bye IDFA and see ya, 3rd party cookie

To compound matters further, the device identifier so often used by marketers is making an abrupt exit in simply a few short weeks with the release of Apple’s iOS14. Even more, the third-party cookie so magnanimous in its information sharing is sailing into the sunset in a few quarters. Each of these events, even more, makes complex the identity landscape and the timing can not be even worse. With a flood of new customers pertaining to the digital economy, each with new or occasionally seen digital identities, the tension in between friction and customer experience is once again front and center.

Consistency, context, confidence, and trust

So, what should digital services do to temper the increased friction while not opening the floodgates to opportunistic scammers? What is the best digital identity solution in the crowded digital identity supply chain?

In the middle of all of these changes, your identity service requires understanding the context of the transaction, harmonize and confirm the identity throughout several markets, therefore, increasing the worldwide view of that identity, and provide you a trust aspect relative to the specific transaction. Think of it this method: self-confidence that the client is the customer and trust that, within the context of this transaction, there is absolutely nothing odd in the client’s behavior. The key: all within the global view of a harmonized identity … all of them … if your digital identity can’t do that, embrace the friction.

In the words of Sir James Murray’s beloved dictionary, “harmonize (with something) if 2 or more things harmonize with each other or something harmonises with the other, the important things work out together and produce an appealing result,” and what is more attractive for digital identity than no friction and no fraud?