Identity is a tricky thing, for financial institutions as for philosophers. Banks and credit unions spend an inordinate amount of time learning who their customers are, verifying that they are who they say they are and proving to regulators that they know with whom they are doing business.

The standard means of authenticating a customer who calls in is to have the call center representative play 20 questions. Not only is that a waste of time better spent serving members, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

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