Personalization is key to improving customer experience. And, in order to personalize a customer’s experience on a website or application, you need the customer to log in. Most online players allow people to create accounts by logging in through their emails or phone numbers.

When a customer logs in to a website or an app, the first thing most companies do is verify the person’s identity through email or phone verification. Verification is a necessary step to minimize the risk of fraud. At the customer’s end, signing in through an email and a phone number are identical. However, there is a difference in their efficacy.

What is email and phone verification?

Mail and phone verification use similar techniques to verify user accounts. The phone number and email address submitted are compared to details stored on reliable third-party databases such as driving license records to confirm that they are correct and connected to the individual using them.

In the case of email verification, an email containing a link back to the website may also be sent to the address being verified. The individual must open the email and click on the link to verify the account. Alternatively, the email may contain a one-time code that must be entered on the website.

Why is email verification not enough?

Though the process is similar, email verification isn’t enough for companies trying to minimize fraud. The key reasons for this are:

• Email accounts are free and easy to set up

Most people have their first email address when they’re in school. But, email addresses that sound cool at that age like hulkboi92@gmail.com and unicorn1234@gmail.com don’t look good on resumes. The result – when they start their careers, they tend to create another more professional email address. There isn’t much stopping them from getting a third or a fourth address… Very few people bother to find out about closing down old accounts.

On the other hand, getting a phone number has quite a few steps. There are few people with multiple phone numbers. Getting an email account is easy and it’s free but you need to pay a certain amount to maintain a phone number. It’s also important to note that email providers don’t worry much about the identity of the person holding the account but mobile service providers go to great lengths to verify an individual’s identity before activating a number.

• Emails are easy to hack into

An email can be accessed from a laptop or smartphone anywhere in the world. The individual owning the account need not be present for the email address to be used. On the other hand, people typically keep their mobile phones with them. This is one of the reasons why emails are easier to hack as compared to mobile phones. After finding out that hackers can easily hijack inactive Gmail accounts, even Google has started using phone verification for the new account registration process.

People who forget to log out of their accounts when using public computers and wi-fi systems further make it easier for hackers. This makes email verification less reliable than phone verification.

• Fake emails are easy to create

The general assumption about fraudsters is that they always choose the easier route. Creating a fake email address is easy. On the other hand, activating a fake mobile number requires more effort and expenses. Today Voice Over IP (VOIP) number providers do allow mass activation of phone numbers but these numbers are easy to flag as VOIP accounts.

There’s another reason many businesses prefer verifying accounts through phone numbers as compared to email accounts. Statistically speaking, text messaging is considered a better way to communicate with customers. The open rate for text messages is 99%. Though emails are accessible on smartphones, text messaging remains the most frequently used feature of a phone. In the USA, messaging is the most preferred channel for customer support.

Apart from verifying the customer’s identity, getting an individual’s email address and/or phone number also gives businesses a way to communicate with the customer. Since customers prefer hearing from companies via a text message or a call, having the individual’s phone number is more useful than having his/her email address.

Automated phone verification – the way ahead

If you’re looking at efficiency, verifying phone numbers is not an exercise that can be conducted manually. The good news is that there are a number of service providers that can automate phone verification during your customer onboarding process as well as on a regular basis to keep your database clean. It’s the simplest and most secure way to verify user identities and protect businesses from fraud while giving your customers a seamless experience.

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