Authentication technology boosts Cheshire Building Society's online strategy

The Cheshire Building Society has doubled the number of mortgage applications it receives online after rolling out technology to...

The Cheshire Building Society has doubled the number of mortgage applications it receives online, after rolling out technology to authenticate brokers and customers making web applications.

The building society, which has placed internet and telephone banking and sales at the heart of its strategy to expand out of the North West into the rest of the UK, claims to be one a handful of financial institutions to have introduced single authentication technology for multiple sales channels.

The society said that the proportion of mortgage applications received online has grown from 5% to 10% since it went live with the first stage of its online expansion - a secure website for mortgage brokers - at the end of last year.

Cheshire aims to grow its customer base further by developing telephone and internet banking and is investigating other potential channels, such as the use of mobile telephones for checking bank accounts.

"Online business has gone through the roof in recent weeks," said John Graham, internet manager at Cheshire. "We put it down to the fact that a lot more intermediaries are becoming web enabled."

Cheshire installed Falcon, a dedicated Unix server, supplied by Aspace, which authenticates customers and brokers on using the web or phoning the call centre, at the end of last year. The project took nine months to compete.

Falcon uses passwords, and "memorable data" stored as SQL files on Cheshire's SQL Server cluster to verify the identity of web users or callers. An algorithm detects whether hackers have attempted to change files, and electronically links adjacent entries on the database systems logs, to detect attempts to delete data.

Cheshire is using the Falcon system to authenticate customers and brokers making mortgage applications online, and intends to extend it to authenticate the identities of people phoning its call centre - a move that will allow customers to check their balance and move funds over the phone.

The society developed a web interface for brokers, which went live at the end of last year, to provide details of its mortgages, and to offer quotes and decisions in principle on mortgage offers within 10 minutes. It plans to expand the site to offer quotes for non-standard mortgages.

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