Branch helps businesses provide instant payments to empower their employees and contractors. They provide workers with a digital wallet backed by a fee-free checking account, free instant access to earned wages, and budgeting tools to help these consumers manage their cash flow in between paychecks. These transparent and equitable financial services not only help employees and independent contractors get ahead financially, but also reach underserved consumers, such as those who don’t have traditional bank accounts or lines of credit. Branch also helps companies attract and retain the best workers — a win-win for everyone involved.
Problem: Branch needed a KYC solution to onboard users.
While Branch isn’t a traditional bank, they need to follow strict Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations when onboarding users to provide them digital banking services. “Financial institutions have to do KYC — there’s no way around it,” explains Ahmed Siddiqui, VP of product at Branch. These KYC regulations require Branch to verify that users are who they say they are prior to providing certain services.
Beyond needing identity verification for compliance purposes, Branch also wanted to verify identities as part of their fraud prevention strategy. In recent years, mobile banking options such as Branch have increasingly been targets for fraud, and identity verification is a proven way to both detect and deter bad actors. “Identity verification plays a critical role in the KYC process and compliance,” explains Amanda Hodgetts-Martin, director of risk management at Branch. “But it also allows us to prevent fraud and provide accurate, safe onboarding.”
Finally, in line with their mission to empower workers, Branch wanted to protect each individual and give them the best identity verification experience possible. “Branch is all about making sure that the onboarding process is flexible and seamless for workers, so we needed identity verification tools that would allow us to onboard quickly without sacrificing security,” Amanda shares.
Solution: Branch partners with Persona to verify users not just during onboarding, but throughout the entire user journey.
Branch evaluated a few identity verification solutions, but they weren’t thrilled with the clunky UIs and suboptimal pass rates. They ultimately chose Persona for the following reasons:
Branch is growing quickly and has a lot of moving pieces to coordinate, so they knew they wanted an easy-to-integrate solution with a range of compliance tools.
With Persona’s web SDK (one of several integration options), Branch was not only able to integrate quickly, but also outsource both the secure collection and storage of PII. “I don’t ever want to store PII, and it’s awesome that with Persona, we don’t have to even think about it — we just send everything through Persona, and SSNs never even hit our system” shares Ahmed. “I asked for that from other players and nobody else really provides that feature.”
One thing Branch looks for when evaluating vendors is “DNA fit,” and after doing some research, it was clear Persona was the technology-driven solution they were looking for. “It was easy and fast for us to implement Persona — the API was simple and clearly documented. I read the docs and wrote the integration in an hour or so,” shares Ahmed.
Branch also knew that unlike some bigger, more rigid solutions in the space, we’d be able to move fast and iterate based off their feedback. “The Persona team is great at listening to our unique concerns and helping us create customized solutions to address them,” Amanda says.
While it’s easy to get started with Persona, Branch quickly realized we’re not just a generic off-the-shelf solution. Persona allows deep customization, which is especially important as Branch works with a wide range of workers — many of whom have thin files (i.e. don’t have much financial history) and are therefore underserved by traditional financial services and KYC processes. “A significant portion are legitimate customers but are blocked by traditional KYC methods,” Amanda shares. “It might be because this is their first entry point into the financial system, or they don’t have a lot of public records in their name.”
With Persona, workers can verify their identity in a variety of ways, which in turn helps Branch verify more users. “The ability to create automated decisions around different inquiry characteristics has been incredibly helpful,” says Amanda. “We can now seamlessly run step-up verifications for our customers who would otherwise fail KYC verification, increasing conversion and reducing drop-off from legitimate customers,” Ahmed adds.
Not just an onboarding tool
When Branch initially partnered with Persona, they simply wanted to verify users during onboarding. However, Branch quickly realized that Persona could do a lot more. As Ahmed puts it, “Persona makes it easy to get started with preset templates, but if you want more power and flexibility to enrich your process, they also offer that. Because Persona’s system is so modern, we can do a lot more than just traditional KYC.”
For example, when users want to change the name on their account, Branch uses Document Verification to have them submit a document, which Persona then verifies for authenticity. This helps protect the user from account takeovers and unauthorized changes.
Additionally, Persona Workflows allows Branch to automate their decision-making, giving them more time to focus on reviewing cases that need extra attention. “Thanks to customizable workflows, we don’t have to fall back on legacy methods or rely too heavily on manual review. Rather than needing to manually verify edge cases, we’re able to see the information real-time and react quickly,” Amanda shares.
In addition to saving Branch time, Workflows also helps ensure workers go through the best verification flow for their unique situation, increasing conversions. “With Persona, we’ve been able to create unique workflows for different customer types and develop user-friendly procedures for our various customers in a compliant way,” she explains.
To automate things even further, Branch uses Persona’s API and Webhooks to trigger workflows when certain events happen, and they use Persona Reports to enrich what they know about users, helping them make better decisions and further reduce fraud.
Results: With Persona taking care of all things identity, Branch can focus on scaling their business.
As Branch continues helping more and more businesses accelerate payments, they appreciate how Persona makes their own processes more efficient. “There’s a lot of routing Persona does in the background that we don’t have to worry about anymore,” says Ahmed. In fact, Branch automates around 98% of their identity verification process with Persona, which gives them more time to take care of other aspects of the business.
While Branch was originally only looking for a compliance solution that’d help them verify users during onboarding, they quickly realized the importance of incorporating identity throughout the user journey — which Persona makes easy. Now, with Persona quietly working in the background to help shed light on each user, Branch is even more equipped to fulfill its mission of empowering workers.
To learn more about how other businesses use Persona, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.