User Friction: How It Stops Us Fighting Fraud Efficiently, and How to Overcome It

Minimizing problems that hinder services and their users is a priority.

Agencies can learn much from e-commerce about avoiding friction. E-shops are hit the most, with brands losing up to $18 billion in annual revenue because of cart abandonment.

Per the data, 55% of customers give up if they have to re-enter payment or shipping details. Concerns about sharing personal information also deter 39% of mobile users.

Such figures emphasize how important a frictionless user experience is, whether through usability heuristics or simpler means, and especially when it comes to online security.

Successful online services in the public sector demand everything from useful tools and information to smooth navigation and security. Otherwise, members of the public can’t conduct their business.

Here’s a breakdown of friction’s impact on effective fraud prevention in the public sector, how to overcome it and use it to your advantage.

What Is Customer or User Friction?

Friction within digital processes is anything that gets in the way of someone’s journey. For example, constituents could be signing up for a service but the system rejects their details or asks them to fill in another form.

Something that complicates matters further is fraud detection and prevention. Even a well-meaning process, like identity authentication, can put people off with its data collection. Endless questions, forms and ID checks can wear users out and make them abandon the process.

How Does Friction Relate to the Public Sector?

Despite any friction, security checks like “know your customer” (KYC) processes are important in the public sector. Criminals often target them with malware and stolen credentials to access funds and sensitive data. Some even use money mules they paid or scammed.

The public sector has good reason to protect itself from very real threats. Between 2018 and 2021, for example, Microsoft sent 20,500 nation-state notifications (NSNs) to alert organizations and individual account holders when they’re compromised. It also found that 48% of overall nation-state attacks targeted government agencies.

Countering fraud and cyberattacks can create friction for members of the public, so government services also need to ensure a positive user experience. Straightforward navigation and processes are essential, no matter what users’ interests are or how much data-sharing they involve.

Visitors and workers can’t go through complex user authentication checks — two-factor authentication, document verification, biometrics and beyond — every time they log in to manage their information, submit a form or pay a minor fee.

While extensive security reduces fraud, it can also make dealing with legitimate issues in person or on the phone preferable. 

Finally, an agency with minimal online traffic makes fraud prevention measures redundant. 

How to Avoid Friction

Based on user experience trends, businesses with online systems that work well and across different platforms appeal more to consumers. 

To be exact, 52% of mobile users avoid engaging with companies that perform badly on this medium. Also, 79% of online visitors who don’t like a website will look for better alternatives. 

These ideals apply to public services, too. People might engage with services in person or turn to private channels, if not give up completely. 

So, avoid friction by first understanding what users expect and how they’d react to verification checks. Schools, for example, have different standards to law enforcement versus health care services. 

Next, adapt your agency’s platforms to cater to visitors safely and without hassle. Minimize steps and questionnaires. Some friction may be inevitable, but restrict it to important processes, like payments or vetting suspicious accounts. 

The best structure to aim for is one that incorporates dynamic friction. This allows a smarter filtering of verification needs, sending users down paths of light or heavy KYC checks. 

Some users might just need to provide some personal details or proof of ID. Others trigger more in-depth processes that could work quietly in the background, like:

  • device fingerprinting
  • data enrichment, which can work out the legitimacy of a user’s digital footprint
  • IP address analysis that determines their use of VPNs or proxies  

Having a range of checks can stop unnecessary friction and people losing faith in your public service. Counter fraud without being overbearing, and respect limits to build trust and good relationships.

Gergo Varga has been fighting online fraud since 2009 at various companies – even co-founding his own anti-fraud startup. He’s the author of the “Fraud Prevention Guide for Dummies – SEON Special” edition. He currently works as the Senior Content Manager/Evangelist at SEON, using his industry knowledge to keep marketing sharp, communicating between the different departments to understand what’s happening on the frontlines of fraud detection. He lives in Budapest, Hungary, and is an avid reader of philosophy and history.

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