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The difference between Co-Browsing and Screen Sharing


While screen sharing is common knowledge the world over, the similar – yet more specific – nature of Co-Browsing software can lead to confusion. Both, after all, allow for remote parties to view the same screen. 

However, while this is a key collaborative function of both, this is where the similarities effectively end. Co-Browsing not only does everything that screen sharing can, but it takes the user experience much further to produce a more immersive, collaborative, and safer session. 

When setting out, many financial institutions wonder whether screen sharing is enough or if they need the next-level capabilities of Co-Browsing. The short answer is, across all contexts, from data security to enhanced customer experience, Co-Browsing is the better option to guarantee service success. 

How Co-Browsing and screen sharing are different 

Before we explore how Co-Browsing technology can be used to provide smoother customer journeys and improve customer engagement, it’s important to understand what the key differences actually are.

Co-Browsing allows for enhanced collaboration

Screen sharing is when one party gives other remote participants permission to view their screen on their computer. Anybody viewing the screen has no control over what happens. They can’t highlight, scroll, make a signature, or anything similar. 

Co-Browsing, on the other hand, does allow for all of this. Whether sharing a document, browsing a web page, or other similar Co-Browsing use cases, it allows remote participants to actively interact with the screen. 

 During a Co-Browsing session, a customer service agent can:

  • Resolve customer issues by joining their browsing session in real-time 
  • Securely share and view documents together
  • Guide customers through transactions when they need help
  • View contextual information to drive a more efficient interaction by upgrading a phone or chat conversation

Co-Browsing guarantees security and privacy

When you use screen sharing, you have the option to share a single browser tab or your entire desktop. There are few other methods in place to hide any information that you may not wish to share. If, for example, you’re working with financial documentation, sensitive details such as your bank balance or credit card numbers will automatically be shared with all parties. 

Co-Browsing takes steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen with Field Masking or the possibility of skipping elements, which allows for element masking. The financial institution can additionally block websites for agents to use during a Universal Co-Browsing session, hide elements of a website, etc. 

This is possible because the Co-Browsing solution is browser based and utilizes DOM (Document Object Model) for capturing and recreating the visitor browser for the agent. DOM capturing runs in the visitor’s browser, and transfers a “clone” of the visual state of the browser to the agent, without any installation required for the visitor. 

This has the added benefit of ensuring that all interactions between the client and advisor are compliant and can be recorded according to regulatory requirements – without putting the client at risk. 

Screen Sharing on the contrary will share the entire screen or application without any restrictions. It works by sending information as image files (JPEGs and GIFs) or individual pixels that are assigned to an X and Y coordinate.

Co-Browsing and Screen Sharing side by side:  

Unblu Co-BrowsingScreen Sharing
Assurance to only share the chosen content (securely limited to the browser, not showing any other content outside a browser)yes no
Field masking chosen customer elements (no transmission/visibility for agents)yes no
Agent tool: scrolling to see parts of the page, even if customers did not scroll to ityes no
Agent tool: filling out forms for customersyes no
Agent tool: clicking on elements for customersyes no
Available on all browsersyes yes
Integration in existing appsyes no
Agent tool: Highlighting the customers screenyes no
Nothing to download / install for the customeryes yes
See the entire screen no yes
Sharing excel files yes yes
Sharing internal applications yes yes

Why Co-Browsing is better positioned for financial institutions

The more secure and collaborative browsing experience that Co-Browsing provides makes it better suited to financial service contexts. 

Customer service experience

With the rise of digital or hybrid banking, there are more touchpoints and more ways for customers to experience unwanted friction. This can take place at any point in the journey when visual engagement is necessary. It could be an unsatisfying customer service experience with self-service tools, to carry out complex transactions, or in a wealth management context where the client needs personalized, in-depth advice.

The Co-Browsing tool allows agents or advisors to provide the necessary level of support exactly when it’s needed. A session can be securely launched at any moment with low-threshold access to ensure that the customer’s needs are met. During the session, both parties can discuss, highlight or use the whiteboard tools to ensure maximum collaboration and communication. What’s more, with the ability to legally sign documents, it’s easier to maximize conversions and boost overall revenue.

Security and customer privacy

There are few sectors where security and privacy are quite as important as in the financial industry. Since 2021, there has been a marked increase in privacy breaches, which has had an impact on customer trust. This led to the majority of financial institutions increasing their budget by 20-30% in 2022. 

The fact is, data security and privacy is top of mind for both institutions and individuals. Collaboration sessions can represent a point of weakness if proper steps are not taken to protect individuals. In fact, in 2022, the UK’s FCA reported an increase in screen sharing scams, which have led to a total loss of £25 million for investors or individuals who were taken advantage of. 

A crucial point in these scams is requesting the customer to download screen-sharing software that, without the customer knowing, actually allows for remote access to their desktop. As Unblu Co-Browsing requires no download at all, it provides extra peace of mind for the user – on top of the stringent security best practices as demonstrated by the SOC 2 Type 2 compliance rating and the ISO 27001.

More information about our secure patents can be found here:

Is screen sharing ever preferable?

At Unblu, we do offer screen sharing capabilities as well. In some cases, it can be useful to share an internal application with the customer, provide real-time feedback, or quickly share information.

Unblu screen-sharing sessions are safer than many tools on the market, with automatic session recording for regulatory requirements and download-free access. However, when given the option, we always recommend using Co-Browsing in a customer service or advice scenario as it is always encrypted, blocks sensitive information, and generally offers a stronger customer experience for visual engagement and real-time collaboration.  
Need more information on Co-Browsing? Download our fact sheet!