#CyberFLASH: Financial players weigh risks of digital relationships in Canada’s consent-based compliance regime

Local Input~ FOR NATIONAL POST USE ONLY - NO POSTMEDIA - Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen. Credit fotolia.How is it that you can ever truly know someone?

That’s the question that various members of the financial sector asked today at a roundtable event hosted by ITWC and sponsored by Equifax Inc.

The relationship between business and customer used to be easy – when someone wanted to open up an account, they walked into a branch. Pen was put to paper and the organizational relationship with the customer came with the warmth offered by a firm shake of the hand and good eye contact. When that’s replaced by the cold transactional endpoint offered by an ATM, or a web portal, can that same relationship still be maintained?

Everyone is trying to balance the mix of traditional channels of communication with the customer with the newer digital options available to them, says Chris Briggs, the chief marketing officer at Equifax. “Whether it’s someone that can answer the phones or someone that’s at the branch, combined with the ability to personalize through digital channels.”

Financial institutions are collecting “cold, impersonal” data about their customers and even prospective customers, said Jim Love, chief content officer at ITWC and host of the roundtable event. But people want to be treated with a personal touch, and in a way that they don’t feel their consent wasn’t considered.

At one credit union with several branches throughout Ontario, business leaders are working on the goal of issuing more personal loans to their members. The opportunity to cross-sell their members on more of their services is a driving reason behind looking at the digital channel as a way to increase their wallet share.

Even with an older demographic, at least 20 per cent of the customer base is accessing the credit union’s digital channels, a marketing manager shared.

“How do we get them onto our platform and off of other people’s platforms?” he asked. “That’s our problem.”

Concerns with consent

But the credit union was concerned about the type of consent it had from its clients and what that allowed it to do to market other products to them. It seemed the more that was done to protect themselves as an institution from a regulatory standpoint, the harder it was to understand from a customer point of view.

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