How Identity is helping Varo Bank and JCB streamline compliance and deliver value to their workforce

Remember when workforce Identity management meant dealing with a tangled web of individual point solutions, each tied to specific applications and handled manually in Excel spreadsheets? 

As an Identity practitioner for over 20 years, I can recall back to the early 2000s when there were numerous point solutions from various vendors to solve specific authentication, authorization, or Identity Governance requirements. These solutions were designed for on-premise workloads, they lacked automation and standardized integration, and they were costly to piece together into both applications and infrastructure.

Fast forward to today and many of those same solutions have been ported to the cloud without being purpose-built for today’s modern, multi-cloud application stacks. This has led to many failed IAM (Identity & Access Management) programs that only frustrated customers and are forcing many to rethink their strategy.  

It's a journey many of us practitioners can relate to, but times have changed. In today's fast-paced, cloud-centric world, modernizing your Workforce Identity program is not just an option; it's a necessity.  This is especially true in highly regulated industries like Financial Services, where IT organizations must strike a fine balance between enabling the business with seamless access to applications while ensuring unwavering compliance with an increasingly complex and strict regulatory landscape.

Okta’s Workforce Identity Cloud is a platform-based integrated set of solutions that leverage low and no-code integrations to help reduce complexity and risk. It enables you to decommission legacy IAM solutions that just cannot scale to today’s modern business needs. At Oktane 2023, I chaired a panel with two Okta customers, Varo Bank and JCB, who shared their compelling stories shedding light on the pivotal role Workforce Identity Cloud is playing in their modernization journeys. Here are some of the highlights from their stories:

Varo Bank: Building a compliance narrative

Sean Brandom is a security engineer at Varo Bank who specializes in building, maintaining, and designing Identity Access Management systems. Varo Bank, for the uninitiated, is the first fintech company in the U.S. to obtain a bank charter. Their journey as a modern bank comes with an essential aspect: compliance.

"When discussing Identity Access Management, specifically governance of IAM, auditors want to see a narrative. They want to see a story about a user's access, where it came from, who approved it, how it was provided, and, ultimately, how it was removed when no longer required,"  Sean explains.

Modern Identity management is vital in building this narrative, from onboarding to offboarding and everything in between. However, complexities arose for Varo when their need to enable business speed and agility clashed with governance, stability, and compliance requirements.

Enter Okta Identity Governance, which enabled Varo Bank to streamline access requests and certifications through the same identity platform the business relied on for access management, tightly integrating access reviews and approval actions to actual decisions.

This transformation was about integrating the front and back ends of the story. Onboarding employees need immediate access. A custom integration with their HR system allowed the Varo team to manage user identities seamlessly. When an employee left, Okta Workflows identity-automation platform swiftly decommissioned their access via an automated process.

Sean emphasizes the importance of Okta‘s ability to: “tie everything together and have a single place to meet the regulatory needs of an online digital bank, which is really key."

The outcome? A seamless and efficient Identity management system that met compliance requirements and made Varo Bank more agile and business-friendly.


JCB: Removing conflict and streamlining compliance

Yuki Naganuma is senior vice president of digital solutions development dept at JCB.

JCB is a Japanese payment company handling credit cards for millions of cardholders and merchants around the world. When the company decided to modernize Identity management for their employees and customers, the IT organization faced some daunting challenges.

Their first challenge was reconciling the demands of business speed and compliance. “We needed to be able to work faster,” Yuki explains. “But JCB and its employees also must comply with various standards.”

Regulations like PCI DSS often clashed with the pace of business. Their employees' need for agility conflicted with their administrators' focus on governance, stability, and cost.

To resolve this conflict, JCB built a unified Identity platform using Okta. Okta's Single Sign-On (SSO) made integrating identities easy with various tools. This transformation allowed employees to use a single identity and password for all introduced tools, simplifying account provisioning and lowering operational costs significantly.

JCB's second challenge was automating Privileged Access Management (PAM). With the manual configuration of privileged IDs, the process was time-consuming and error-prone. Using a workflow in Okta's Workforce Identity Cloud, JCB achieved automation.

The automated workflow streamlined the process, ensuring privileges were granted and revoked appropriately. As a result, JCB reduced operational costs for PAM to nearly zero, allowing administrators to focus on more valuable tasks.

Ultimately, the unified and automated ID platform “provides business speed, agility, efficiency, and productivity, in addition to safety and security,” Yuki says. “Okta also makes employees happy, enabling them to focus on more creative activities."


As you’ve seen through the remarkable journeys of Varo Bank and JCB, modernizing Identity is essential for improving efficiency, security, and compliance in an increasingly strict regulatory landscape. If you want to dive deeper into these stories and explore how Workforce Identity Cloud can transform your Identity program, watch the panel discussion at Oktane Online.