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Seven Tips for Choosing Name Screening Technology

By Tina Lieu

What should you be looking for when evaluating and selecting a name screening solution?

1. Accuracy

Accuracy is the top concern when choosing a name screening solution, but there are six other important factors to consider. Otherwise, you’ve just bought an academic project. We covered how to rigorously evaluate the accuracy of various name screening solutions in the blog post How to Measure Accuracy of Name Matching Technology, so let’s go straight to the other key factors.

2. Speed and performance

Name screening involves thousands of name comparisons per day. Border security and financial compliance organizations frequently check watchlists with tens of millions of names. The screening of real-time banking transactions must not affect payment speed or the timely onboarding of new customers.

3. Multilingual and multicultural support

Even if you only process names written in the English alphabet (aka, Latin script), those names may originate from another language or country. Names originally written in a different script can be spelled hundreds of different ways because some languages, such as Arabic, have sounds that don’t exist in English.

Furthermore, cultural understanding of naming conventions can boost name matching algorithm accuracy. For example, the system has to know which given names are female and male to spot gender mismatches. Or, if one word is missing from a two-word Hispanic surname, it should be treated differently from a missing English middle name, which is frequently absent.

4. Explainable AI

Any modern name screening system will leverage AI because it inherently brings a flexible approach to a complex problem. But many industries — such as financial compliance and government — won’t accept AI that’s a black box. They require explainability of the matching results. A government agency might need to show that the matching was done in a manner that is consistent and impartial to prove that all applicants were treated equally.

5. Easy tuning and customization

At the same time, explainability is the starting point for tuning and customizing the matching behavior of a solution to meet the business need. Perhaps your business has certain equivalent terms that appear in organizational names that should be taken into account. Is “PD” a common abbreviation for “product development” or “police department”? Are surnames much more reliable than given names? Are middle names often missing from one database? The solution should offer numerous configuration options to deliver the name matching results that work for your business requirements. Ask the vendor if there is an easy way to test these configurations, so you will know how changing them affects your matching results.

6. Matching with other identity attributes

With name screening, there are often other fields to match like date of birth and addresses. Will the system do something intelligent here or does it fall back on simple edit distance, which is how many character substitutions or swaps it takes to get from one date to the next? Will it understand that “01/01/1999” is close to “12/31/1998”? Or that “Manhattan, NY 10022” is a pretty good match for “New York City, NY 10022”?

7. Flexibility

Flexibility means you can implement this name screening solution with minimal disruption. Maybe you have a larger end-to-end system and you just want to upgrade the piece that does name matching. Will this new solution integrate into your larger system? Also look at the licensing model. The cost should scale up with your needs, and not require huge increases in cost when you only need a little increase in capacity.

For more information, download our e-book, “7 Things to Look for in a Name Matching Solution,” You will learn how to draw up criteria and create an objective process to help you find the best name screening solution for your business.

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