Monday, November 20, 2017

Insurtech: optimizing processes with mobile data capture

Being one of the most consumer-centric industries, insurance is overflown with challenges of the digital age. While closely related industries, such as banking, are taking brave steps to keep up with the demanding digital and mobile market, insurance seems to be struggling to keep up with trends in customer experience and to cut down costs and fraud losses. Efficient management of these issues is certainly challenging, but let us tackle some of them from the fast-moving mobile environment perspective.

The challenges of digital transformation

One of the major reasons why consumers today are more keen to make important financial purchases online is the empowerment they get from having fast and easy access to all information they need to make the final decision. Empowered consumers like to do research on their own and they may contact an agent or go visit a branch office only when they have concrete questions and concerns. This is not just the case with online retail; even more sensitive and complex services like opening a bank account or getting a loan are now done within minutes via a mobile app - so why shouldn’t insurance services be done with the same ease?
Apart from having information at hand, another important factor valued by consumers is the simple functionality of the research and purchase process. Choices in complex decisions such as insurance options have to be made simple and intuitive, in order to get the consumer to proceed to checkout as soon as possible. Certain parts of the insurance purchase process are dull and take up a lot of time, such as filling in personal information manually or providing physical copies of identity documents. But there is a way to replace the most time-consuming parts of the process with smart tech solutions, and enable consumers to go through with them in just a couple of seconds. By scanning identity documents with help of OCR (optical character recognition), personal data are instantly extracted and can be automatically entered into any data management system. Besides saving a great amount of time, this neat feature doesn’t require heavy investments in new office equipment - it can be done on any mobile device, or if you still prefer desktop solutions, as a part of the existing web application. Talk about killing two birds…

Developing a mobile-centric approach

Such solutions are certainly neat, but only if used as part of a well-defined and efficient digital channel strategy. A common mistake of the majority of insurance providers who are stepping into digital is that they are still trying to mimic the branch office experience and processes. Only a few of them, such as Slice or Inshur, have developed a mobile-centric approach, offering innovative and fast insurance services through mobile apps. Not only did they create more streamlined processes for consumers, but they also shortened the overall processing time. What once was a problem, now becomes a new customer acquisition channel.

Fraud prevention

Introducing new tech into the traditional insurance business processes sounds exciting. However, besides having to be used in the right way, there is another challenge: susceptibility to fraud, which still seems more difficult to manage remotely than in real life. 
Insurance scams are a fruitful area for information manipulation, mostly due to the after-the-fact nature of reporting any unfortunate events. The lag in reporting details in the claims process is useful for both customers and third parties who are looking to exploit the ability to bend the circumstances of such events. Besides eating up the insurer’s premiums,insurance scams done by third parties (medical or car service providers) can have devastating consequences for the customer’s financial or even medical health. 
Don’t get discouraged too early, though. The new disruptive tech offers advanced solutions, e.g. in verification and biometrics, which can help prevent fraud losses while additionally improving the overall customer experience, and is also becoming easier (and cheaper) to integrate into the existing business processes. Even text recognition tools mentioned earlier offer additional security feature: they work locally, on-device to ensure data privacy. 
By combining multiple tools together, you can cover a wide range of insurance services and processes through a mobile app or online.

Easy data input & management

So far we have talked about the consumer experience and protection of their data. But let’s look at the other side of the coin. Solutions mentioned above are not only useful for the consumer, but they also enable more productive and efficient internal processes. By moving multiple steps of insurance services to mobile and getting consumers to do the steps themselves on their own devices allows for a faster and more effective information flow. Instead of typing, fulfilling a claim form through a mobile app can be incredibly easy and fast by scanning the required information, like VIN, driver’s license, or health care card. When combined with corresponding data management systems, this feature can generate efficiency on a large scale, both in day-to-day operations and in complete business processes.
We hope this helps you realize the extent to which digital transformation has become an integral part of every industry - so now it’s time for insurance to speed up and move from the branch offices and web to mobile-first services.

Related information

BlinkID - SDK for scanning identity documents as the first step in remote user acquisition
BlinkInput - SDK for scanning various predefined numbers or text, eg. VIN, health care card, insurance number...

If you’d like to know more about OCR solutions we offer, get more info on how they can help optimize insurance processes, or explore various other use-cases, feel free to get in touch with us here. We’d be happy to have a chat with you! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Mobile ID verification made easy

Many simple services today, such as transferring money or checking account balance, can be done with help of mobile banking apps within seconds. However, with a rising number of customers inclining more towards mobile, their expectations of getting quick and practical service are also rising and expanding in scope. For businesses looking to enter or further develop in the digital realm, this is both an opportunity and a challenge. Great opportunity lies in creating more streamlined customer service processes, but when it comes to more complex procedures, they usually come with security concerns. Here is our take on one such issue - remote identity verification.

Remember Alex, the teen who last year accidentally spent over $700 at Sephora on her mom’s credit card? Unfortunately, the anecdote is far from the worst things that can happen in handling sensitive virtual transactions. Frauds and identity thefts are serious issues for an increasing number of businesses seeking to move their operations to virtual space, and the issue of matching a person’s digital identity with their real-life identity is not an easy problem to tackle.

Overcoming trust, security and user experience challenges 

What kind of solutions are out there to curtail security risks? Most recent trends have shown moving towards a more holistic approach to verification, where multiple factors work together as parts of an integrated verification process. This is largely affected by increasingly stricter regulations for businesses, such as KYC (Know Your Customer) for financial institutions. One such approach which has been present for a while is multi-factor authentication. It’s a method where there are multiple steps that provide evidence of identity to an authentication mechanism. A common example of MFA is an additional security question that is sometimes required next to the username and password. However, now it offers even greater protection, because it is able to combine several data sources to verify one’s identity. Aside from passwords, security questions, and SMS authentication, biometrics (in the form of fingerprint, iris, face, or voice recognition) is increasingly used as an important factor in matching identity data with a live person. This makes remote identity verification just as secure as if it were done live, in branch offices. The most advanced solutions ensure accurate and safe verification process, but are also easy to integrate, fast, and user-friendly.

Possibilities are numerous, but here’s our quick walkthrough of how a remote identity verification process would look like in a couple of steps:

Instead of entering ID data manually, any document data can be extracted with blinkID, an easy-to-integrate SDK which enables real-time data extraction with high precision. Considering sensitivity of such data, scanning and extraction is done offline and locally on a device. The client decides how to handle the information from the security point of view.

This step ensures that a user is an actual person. There is a number of software solutions which offer variations of face movement recognition (Visage Technologies, BioID, Applied Recognition, and many more). With one such software integrated into the verification process, all the user has to do is point the phone camera towards them and do a few movements, such as blinking or smiling.

Finally, this step brings the first two together - it matches the data extracted from the user’s identity document with the user’s real-life identity. There are intelligent facial ID recognition solutions being developed around the world, which combine biometrics with artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer precise and accurate user identification (look up Innov8tif, Microsoft, Megvii or NEC).

Biometrics integration

Biometrics solutions can be added into any of these steps to contribute to the security of the identity verification process (eye-scanning technology, voice recognition, finger- or palm prints, and alike).

What about twins?

Skeptics may argue that remote identity verification may not be able to tackle some challenges of live identity verification. For example, no matter how advanced biometrics and liveness detection softwares may be, could they tell the difference between identical twins? To this we say - could a person behind the counter in a branch office tell them apart? Live identity verification, in this case, is equally, if not less secure than remote verification.

The process we described takes seconds to complete because it eliminates the need to manually enter the required data. However, it’s clear that a complete KYC process cannot be completed with only these three or four steps and that additional checks and regulatory compliance are required. That is why all of the solutions usually come in the form of SDK or API and they are easily integrated into any app. From the users’ perspective, these are simple actions that could be done anywhere without being time-consuming. After all, isn’t that the main purpose of all new services in a mobile-centric world - to offer seamless engagement without compromising UX?  

Beginning of July, Zagreba─Źka banka, a part of the Unicredit Group, launched remote account opening service within their mobile banking app. It features a very simple, three-step identity verification process. Additional security and background checks of the complete process are extensive, but this doesn’t affect the user experience and a bank account can be opened in less than five minutes.

Besides remote account opening, there are many use-cases where identity verification is necessary: from hotel and airport check-ins, security checks, citizenship and immigration assessments to voter registration, amongst others.

Any questions? 

We hope you found this insight into ID verification useful. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us via social or e-mail here. We’d be happy to have a chat with you!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Seamless prepaid user registration

In a number of countries, regulators require telecom companies to register their new prepaid users. Before these regulations, the process of purchasing a prepaid SIM was effortless. People would buy them just about anywhere and used them in a few minutes. Today's demand is to make buying a SIM card safe, but remove as much friction as possible to achieve great user experience.

Security vs. UX… and cost

The story is as old as the technology itself. All onboarding processes are essentially a trade-off between smooth user journey and secure processes while keeping it all cost-effective.
Manual input of personal data into a mobile app form just doesn’t cut it for either side. For users, it means a lot of typing. For the Telecoms, on the other hand, it means unreliable data that could lead to noncompliance with regulations or an expensive backend checking process to ensure security.

Machine-based solutions can be effective when it comes to UX and time but are often expensive. However, there is a solution offering a good performance on all three aspects (time, cost and UX) that usually drive the decision.

Simple registration via mobile app

Instead of manually inputting data into the app, a mobile camera can capture all required information in real-time.
Microblink offers software development kit that uses a camera to accurately scan both, SIM card serial number and identity document.

Therefore, for telco sales or their third-party resellers, the registration process can be completed anywhere simply through a mobile app. The SDK can be integrated into any mobile app and operates 100% offline. With no server-side components, the personal and other data remain only on a device.

For countries where data privacy regulations don’t allow taking ID images, SDK can be used to only extract data without ever saving the image in the phone memory or anywhere else.

Challenge us @ #MWC17 Barcelona!

Our technology will be presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from February 27th to March 2nd. We’ll be happy to demo our solutions and discuss your use-case.
Meet us at Hall 8.0 Stand F21.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Where were we and where are we heading?

Looking back at 2016, we can say it was, without a doubt, a very successful year for us. So let's recap the most interesting events of 2016 and tell you what's in store for 2017.

2016 in a nutshell

The year kicked off with a spin-off of our Photomath app into an independent company. Something that started two years ago as a showcase of our state-of-the-art OCR technology grew into one of the most popular apps worldwide in the educational category!

In September last year Photomath became world’s first app that solves handwritten math problems in real-time using the mobile camera. During the last 2 months, Photomath spent 29 days as #1 in the educational category of the US App Store, with over 40M downloads and more than 600K daily active users. At the end of the year, it was featured as one of the best apps of the year by German Der Spiegel magazine, Spanish El Pais, Austrian The Kronen Zeitung and other international media.

As the year went by, Photopay was implemented in several new mobile banking apps in the CEE region. In the same time, we added support for documents from more than 100 countries to the BlinkID. Expansion of our customers’ network required gathering new talents so our team grew to 50.

International Exposure

We gained a trust of over 100 new companies from all over the world, from large enterprises to startups, and increased our revenue by 100%! By the end of the year, our technology was being used by millions of end users in over 60 countries.

We went to the epicenters of innovations by participating at some of the most vibrant fintech events in Europe, Middle East and USA. It was a great opportunity to catch up with partners and clients, which resulted in promising plans for expansion of our existing cooperations.

The conferences and meetings with the industry leaders helped us better understand the financial industry challenges in 2017, especially when it comes to PSD2 in Europe. This had a big effect on our product development in order to put the client’s needs in the core of our innovation.

In Q3 & Q4 we proudly introduced two new products in our OCR family and once again proved that machine vision surpasses the obstacle of manual data entry and enables the best user experience for mobile apps.

The first one is an enhancement of a well-known BlinkID product. To our simple and fast ID scanner we added a new authentication functionality. Identity check is enabled in 3 simple steps in order to easily onboard new customers - scanning and extracting data from the ID, liveness test and face matching.

The other one is BlinkReceipt, real-time receipt scanner that enables capturing a complete retail receipt and extracting data on an item level. Very useful for personal finances management, marketing analysis or loyalty programs.

So, what’s cooking in 2017?

We will continue to market new, cutting-edge technology products. In 2017 we’re investing a great deal of time and resources in developing learning systems in order to upgrade our OCR to the new machine learning technology. Machine learning represents a turning point in the way problems are solved in computer science, and it has caught a lot of attention within the academic community in last couple of years.

With the new approach our existing real-time text recognition will be even more accurate but, more importantly, we’ll be able to add new features and cover new use-cases, languages and various documents more easily.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


The US presidential elections were never more interesting and the tight race who will replace Barack Obama as the president in the White House has reached into its last week. The 2016 Presidential elections are being called the most important elections since 1932 and that is because of the major differences between candidates and their parties. One of the crucial things is that lots of voters still have not registered. A 2012 study estimates that 24% of the voting-eligible population are not registered to vote, meaning at least 51 million US citizens.

But how do the presidential elections in the US even work? 

Almost all of the states require citizens who wish to vote be registered 2-4 weeks before the election day.
As eligibility is not automatically presumed, how is a voter registered? Usually, it's required for a citizen to register in a jurisdiction of a residence, while only some states accept registration at the county level. Till the mid 90s registration was only possible at the governmental office. Afterward, in order to increase voting turnout, the process was simplified and registration was possible at the DL registration centers, schools, libraries, disability centers and by mail-in. This year online registration was approved as well.

Online voter registration

Online registration means avoiding paperwork and filling out the forms on a website instead. Validation is done by comparing the given data with the identification document. The signature previously recorded by the state becomes also the voting signature. In case the information doesn't match application is sent for further review. Online registration meant significant savings of the tax-payers’ money, from 83 cents per paper registration to only 3 cents for online registration.

Mobile App registration

In today’s modern world smartphones have become the main and ultimate means of interaction and source of information. Therefore, a mobile App voter registration solution makes the voting process accessible to the young people in a format they are already familiar with. Most apps of this kind provide not only the registration but the general information on the candidates, ballot issues and information about polling location.

Advanced technologies enable extraction of personal data using a mobile device camera. Now, there’s no longer need to manually enter data. Within an app, it’s enough only to scan a driver’s license and the information is automatically extracted. MicroBlink offers this functionality and improves the user experience of several voting mobile apps. The scanning and the data extraction take less than a second which makes the whole process really attractive for the millennial voter population.

The future of online voting

Now, there are attempts to make the voting system online so that even more people could vote. In that case, smartphone apps would resolve many of today’s voting problems. The process for the voters would be very simple, meaning registered voters could cast their vote in real-time using their mobile device, right up until the polls close. There are opposing opinions on this system. Many argue that smartphones would be too complex for the elderly. On the other hand, there are many positive aspects like decreasing the likelihood of invalid ballots (e.g. marking 2 candidates instead of 1) and informing voters better about the candidates. Anyhow, for these changes we’ll have to wait for the next elections.

There are only a few days left and it’s predicted that it will be very tight race counting on each vote. It will be interesting to see if these simplifications and introduction of mobile app registration would have an impact on the number of voters.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Improving Mobile User Experience with the Best OCR

After successful participation at the Money20/20 Europe MicroBlink has chosen Las Vegas to showcase the newest product for the financial industry. Fast and easy way to acquire new customers remotely.

Consumers want access to banking and financial services any time any place through their mobile devices. With the machine vision software MicroBlink surpasses obstacle of manual data entry and enables the best user experience in mobile apps.

MicroBlink developed new functionality for mobile verification. SDK includes complete ID scanning, liveness detection and face matching between the photo on the ID and a selfie. Due to advanced methods for face matching verify feature of blinkID provides reliable way to confirm user’s identity to remotely access financial services while minimising fraud risk. Main advantage of blinkID is that it operates offline therefore sensitive customer data remains only on a device.

Technology for enabling true digital experience should make the process of making bank transactions easy, onboarding fast, interface seamless and beautiful with user-centric approach.
Today, mobile vision technology is ready to deal with such challenges. Why not use smartphone camera to read data from checks, invoices and other payment slips for quick data input, or to scan IDs for KYC process?

MicroBlink’s advanced technology required years of AI based research and development and now it’s available as a component easily integrated into all sorts of digital services like mobile or web apps to eliminate manual data input.

Interesting Fact

Photomath - the world’s first app that solves handwritten math problems in real-time by using smartphone camera - is built on MicroBlink's technology. It’s among top 5 educational apps and has more than 36 million downloads.

More information on MicroBlink:

Contact for meeting and scheduling a demo:
MicroBlink is exhibiting at the booth 939

Monday, July 11, 2016

Digital banking experience for Millennials

According to the survey by Viacom media networks on over 10,000 Millennials, 71% of them would rather visit the dentist than listen to the new banking offerings. That kind of perception makes banks quite exposed to new, disruptive business models of the emerging fintech start-ups.

Mind the gap

Millennials or the GenY’s are people born in late 80’s and 90’s and who are now becoming the majority of the global workforce. They are well educated, well informed, and well paid which makes them great potential clients. However, they are hard to acquire and even harder to keep due to the specific nature of their wants and expectation, often misunderstood or not met by traditional banking services. Also, they don’t mind switching brands often if there is a better product out there.

Technology-driven approach

Millennials are mobile natives, meaning that they consume most of the content via mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. They expect services available promptly, on-the-go, and the best possible experience they are familiar with in social media, instant messaging and other services that they enjoy using on a daily if not hourly basis.
If you don’t meet the expectations of Millennials in their native environment - mobile, they will probably search elsewhere for the service that does.
When mobile banking first appeared on the market, it wasn't very successful. It tried to mimic the process of the real-life branch offices or the existing desktop solutions and the number of mobile transactions was negligible, compared to other channels. It simply wasn’t 100% true digital experience for the mobile natives because it was basically the same service, offered on a different platform, not suited for such an approach.

Genuinely digital experience

Technology for enabling true digital experience should make the process of making bank transactions easy, onboarding fast and the user interface seamless and beautiful with platform-specific approaches.
But you simply can’t make the bank transaction easy if your users have to type in payment information via a tiny smartphone keyboard. Also, you can’t offer innovative services like remote account opening without the customers confirming their identity personally, in the branch office... Or can you?
Why not using the smartphone camera to read data from checks, invoices, and other payment slips for quick data input, or use it to read ID cards to satisfy KYC regulations?
Today, mobile vision technology is ready to deal with such challenges. The video below is a real-life demo of mobile vision technology in action.

It is an advanced technology that requires years of research and development, but it’s available as a component that can be easily integrated into all sorts of digital services like mobile or web apps to eliminate manual data input.

Win-win technology

In one of our earlier blog posts, we already wrote about the Erste bank use-case in which Microblink technology was used to enable using a mobile phone camera for reading payment slips. The use-case revealed 160% increase in the number of mobile banking users and 100 times increase in the number of mobile banking transactions which is a quite significant result.
We are just about to launch KYC solutions for several major banks in Europe to enable remote account opening by scanning personal ID documents.
Millennials appreciate when you go an extra mile to make their life easier and that is basically what you, as their chosen service provider should do to keep them satisfied. It will result in lot’s of positive reviews and happy customers and the thing about Millennials is - they read reviews. They listen to what their network is talking about and they are happy to share a good experience.

About Microblink

At Microblink, we are focused on research and development of mobile vision technology. We are on the frontier of computer science and we use the most advanced neural networks and deep learning techniques to provide the fastest and the most accurate text recognition by using the phone camera.
However, we are fully aware that cutting-edge technology is not enough for Millennials. It is about creating the user experience and we use technology simply as a tool for achieving the goal of seamless UX for all services that require manual data input.
The Manual data input is one of the biggest obstacles for mobile banking, but it is also slowing down processes in other industries. Manual typing is outdated! Contact us to eliminate it from your solution.