What if close to half of all companies surveyed said productivity during COVID-19 work-from-home (WFH) orders is actually rising, as more business is conducted efficiently online and less time goes into commutation or gets siphoned off by sundry other office intrusions?

Well, they’ve said it.

Such learnings from the COVID-19 crisis “could indicate firms’ greater willingness to embrace remote work for the long term. A survey of 127 business leaders revealed 82 percent will allow remote work even as employees return to the workplace. Companies may reap benefits of remote workforces now, but many were unprepared for the transition to hiring and onboarding remotely, and verifying job candidates’ identities will remain difficult in 2021.”

That’s according to PYMNTS January 2021 Digital Identity Tracker® done in collaboration with Jumio. The new edition drills down on the applications of trusted digital identity in this new decade, from interviewing new hires to closing major cross-border business deals, safely.

Going With Native Biometrics

Virtual hiring is just one of the ways businesses quickly adapted to the pandemic — or tried to. The larger issue is remote onboarding becoming the dominant form of account creation, and how to secure a world where in-person meetings are out, and documents can be faked.

Partly for this reason, the January Digital Identity Tracker® notes, “smartphones with native biometric capabilities are likely to become a dominant tool in verification for financial services within this same time frame. Digital identity is anticipated to generate $8 billion for mobile network operators by 2025, up from $1.3 billion in 2020 alone.”

Given the increasing role of mobile carriers in emerging markets with spotty access to banking, “Businesses requiring an ID plus a selfie in identity verification had significantly lower rates of new account fraud compared to those requiring only a government-issued ID, according to a report released by digital identity verification provider Jumio.”

That same report noted “an encouraging drop of 24 percent in ID-based fraud rates in 2020 from 2019. It also reported seeing 80 percent less fraud in firms requiring an ID plus a selfie than in those requiring a government-issued ID alone. Rates of selfie-based fraud — using a video or image instead of an authentic selfie to confirm the applicant’s digital identity — were five times greater than those of ID-based fraud.”

Digital A Lifesaver For HR Pros

As is the case in banking, retail and virtually every other sector, certain aspects of the new COVID-era hiring makes people uneasy. Most HR departments fared no better in this.

“Effective identity verification solutions have not typically been a part of HR professionals’ arsenals, and nearly 50 percent of organizations have acknowledged they are unprepared for remote hiring and its requirement for more stringent identity verification,” the new Tracker states. “Thirty-one percent of firms don’t perform background checks before hiring, often waiting until new hires turn in personal documents to do any research.”

However, third-parties are fielding new AI-powered biometrics “with techniques such as facial verification and pattern recognition able to stop these potential scammers in their tracks.”