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What is 2FA: Everything You Need to Know

What is 2FA: Everything You Need to Know

Two-factor authentication can be used in a variety of ways to protect customer information. Find out more about the benefits and the necessity of 2FA.

What is 2FA?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is used globally, in many different industries, and by many different brands.

You don’t always realize it, but every time you complete simple actions like entering your PIN number when using your debit card, you’re using 2two-factor authentication. Every time you’re asked for ID at a bank, you’re using another form of 2FA.

According to Verizon, 80% of cyber breaches could be prevented by 2FA, and this could be something as simple as a transaction requiring an SMS confirmation. It’s much less likely that someone will be able to get a hold of your password and your phone!

Recently Google also reported that 100% of automated bots, 99% of phishing attacks, and 66% of targeted attacks were blocked by two-factor authentication.


There are three main types of authentication:

  • What you know – a password, a PIN, or an answer to a security question.
  • What you have – a phone, credit card, or fob.
  • What you are – a biometric such as a fingerprint, retina, face, or voice.

They can all be mixed and matched to be used together in whichever way suits your company’s purpose.

In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about 2FA so it can become an integral part of everyday life that protects your customers.

The necessity

Your customers’ security should be one of your highest priorities. If they experience a security breach it could be completely life-changing for them – that’s why it’s so important to protect your client’s accounts.

2FA provides an extra layer of security and makes it harder for attackers to access their accounts. Simply adding a layer of 2FA to logins and transaction processes can alleviate risk.


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Nowadays it’s also important to make sure you are PSD2 compliant – this regulation directly impacts banks, fintechs, and businesses using payments data.

It aims to better align payment regulations with the current state of the market and technology. It’s also encouraging companies to exchange customer data more securely with third parties, which can only be a good thing.

Find out more about PSD2 regulations here or download our white paper.

The benefits

1. It can be seamless

Seamless authentication is now also possible via push messages. This means there’s no need to enter a PIN to confirm the authentication, a simple click is all that’s required.

Best of all, this can be given as a choice for customers, so they can decide what works for them.

This works well, as although security is important, so is user experience. Push notifications (and simply being offered the choice) gives a great UX and the highest security levels.

If a customer is able to choose how they would like to confirm a transaction, this creates an omnichannel 2FA, allowing the customer to choose the method that best suits them.

2. Better security

2FA decreases the chances of an attacker being able to impersonate somebody on their account and gain access to sensitive resources. Even if they have the password, they’ll need something else too!

3. Increased productivity and flexibility

Companies that embrace new technology are likely to experience better productivity and flexibility. Customers are able to sign up for services quicker and more securely than before, and can be given the choice of how they’d like to verify their identity.

In businesses, 2FA is used so employees can securely access corporate applications, data, documents, and back-office systems from virtually any location without putting company data at risk.

4. Lower security management costs

Implementing 2FA can help reduce the lengthy and costly password reset calls, and can act as a secure way for customers to sort these issues out themselves.

Reducing customer interactions with call centers, not only strengthens security but also improves UX. Then, as a massive bonus, operational overheads that are associated with security controls are reduced.

5. Reduced fraud

It’s not easy for a hacker to bypass 2FA, making it an effective security tool against fraud. Potential threats would have to know lots of information to gain access and duplicate information, not just one password.

How does 2FA work?

The most common use of 2FA is when a customer logs in using a password and then is sent a one-time pin (OTP) code to confirm their identity.


They can then be presented with how they would like to confirm their identity.


Then, a verification code will be sent via the customer’s chosen method.


The second factor in the authentication adds an extra layer of security (for example,  a hacker would need to know your password AND have access to your phone in order to get into your account).

The second factor works by releasing an OTP to be used, which can’t be replicated once it’s been used.


A verification notification will then be received, and the identity can be confirmed.

To read more on the technology behind two-factor authentication, see our 2FA process overview here.

2FA keeps hackers away

Turning on two-factor authentication is an easy way to stay protected. It quite literally places the security of customer accounts in their own hands.

Even the simplest form of 2FA puts a practically impenetrable wall between hackers and your customers’ personal information.

Taking these steps to protect your customers’ accounts will offer them the highest level of security and the best UX, creating happy and secure customers all around.

Download our whitepaper “Be PSD2 Compliant: 2FA for Strong Customer Authentication”