Four Steps to Success with Implementing A Multi-Factor Authentication System

In the face of heightened risk and increasing regulation, credit unions are actively working to implement multi-factor authentication systems for their internet banking. The process can be daunting; however, credit unions can follow four simple steps for a smooth implementation.


Last fall’s FFIEC guidance prompted many credit unions to turn their attention to more stringent authentication systems for internet banking. Credit unions must take steps to identify and implement appropriate systems for their credit union. And the stakes are high – implementing the most efficient and current fraud protection schemes is challenging, not only for a credit union’s bottom line but also for member acceptance and satisfaction.

Developing a Program For Implementing a MFA System

The rollout of a new multi-factor authentication system to members requires careful planning. Data from the Internet Strategy Consortium show that online members are using the internet as their primary channel for credit union transactions, and they say it is a critical tool for managing their personal finances. Member reliance on the online channel creates increased pressure to ensure a smooth transition of new security enhancements. Below are four suggestions for increasing the success of your program.

1. Phased-in Enrollment and Timing
A phased-in enrollment period will help lessen some of the frustrations associated with changing to a new system. Enable members to enroll when it’s more convenient for them; however, enrollment should not have an indefinite time period. At some point, members will be unable to access online banking without completing their enrollment. Make sure that implementation does not coincide with high traffic times, such as tax season, as this will add to member frustration.

2. Employee Training and Trial Period
Employees who have already gone through the system themselves will be better equipped to explain the process to members. Their feedback can help identify improvements either in the process or in terms of communications.

3. Communicating changes to members
One important step is informing members of the impending change. As with any message, multiple channels and message wording should be used to increase awareness. All member communications, regardless of the channel, should include the following information:

  • Reason for the change
  • Benefits of the new system
  • Enrollment steps
  • Ways to get help during the process

Rotating buttons on the home page or online banking messages can help alert members to the new system. Information should be accessible in both places. Links should be easily identified on the home page to click for further details, in addition to placing links in other areas that members might turn to.

4. Try to anticipate as many potential problems as possible
Many times systems are tested using internal access points and/or using the most up-to-date software technology. Try checking enrollment using dial-up, and different operating system versions, as well as multiple browsers. Are there different steps for these situations? Make sure member support representatives or online information provide detailed instructions for these situations. Inform members if new or updated software is required. Consider bandwidth – can your system handle large numbers of concurrent enrollments?

Setting up a successful internet security network is essential for every credit union. While every problem cannot be anticipated or avoided, following these steps can help credit unions make this difficult process smoother for their members. Successfully communicating the benefits of this change could result in greater member satisfaction in the long term.

As implementing new security measures can be costly and time-consuming, it is important to carefully consider not only your overall strategy but how you will be able to do it. To answer these questions, attend the Credit Union IT Security: Evaluating and Managing Risk  webinar, sponsored by Corillian.




June 12, 2006


  • Excellent information!
    David Green
  • Well thought out - structured and easy to understand! Thanks for the added insight.
  • By far the best advice Ive seen as it relates to this topic. Great job.