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HOW NEW APPROACHES TO USER VERIFICATION CAN HELP BANKS TACKLE THE ISSUE OF FRIENDLY ACCOUNT TAKEOVER

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By Richard da Silva, VP EMEA at Revelock

 

Banks and other financial institutions are battling hard behind the scenes every day to ensure online fraud attacks are detected and prevented efficiently and effectively. This has become an endless game of cat-and-mouse, with fraud analysts struggling to keep up with what is now a massively lucrative industry populated by increasingly sophisticated bad actors. Meanwhile, financial organisations often err on the side of convenience over security, so as not to add friction to customer journeys.

The complex issue of accurately detecting and responding to one type of ‘account takeover’ in particular – namely friendly account takeover – encapsulates the difficulties of balancing a comprehensive fraud defence with a seamless customer experience.

 

What is friendly account takeover?

Friendly account takeover refers to a circumstance in which a friend or family member helps the account holder with their online banking. It’s important to note that this is different from a generally used term, ‘friendly fraud’, through this distinction: although technically the friendly account takeover is not the legitimate customer, their actions in taking over the account involve no malice. This can be tricky for financial institutions to navigate, because in their perpetual search for ways in which to offer a frictionless user experience, banks don’t want to impose unnecessary restrictions on those friends or family members who have no intention of stealing money and committing fraud.

Instances of this type of harmless account takeover spiked during the pandemic due to the increase in online banking use, especially among users who were inexperienced in using digital services previously. Unfortunately, this influx of new online users is one of the very trends that enticed fraudsters to increase their criminal activities even further during the crisis; in the first half of 2020, complaints of fraud in relation to digital transactions increased by 59%. A rise in friendly account takeover among legitimate users and their friends and family, as well as an increase in malicious attacks means banks were caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of trying to make a distinction between the two in order to both mitigate fraud as well as to maintain a frictionless experience for legitimate customers.

 

Richard da Silva

The issue with traditional fraud prevention solutions

Implementing an online fraud solution is the most accurate way in which to determine whether a user is who they say they are and whether they are being manipulated or impersonated throughout their online session. However, this typically won’t solve the problem here. Financial institutions will be able to establish that the user is not the person with their name on the account, without determining whether the impersonator is a bad actor or a helpful family member. One way to solve this may be triggering stepped up authentication for any user who is not who they say they are, but not only does this add friction for those users who are not attempting to commit fraud, simultaneously it risks letting perpetrators of phishing, remote access trojan (RAT) or other types of attack as well as of friendly fraud slip through the net, leading to fraud losses.

What’s more, traditional fraud prevention methods involving behavioural biometrics most often leverage a profiling technique that compares individual user behaviour to that of groups of bad actors, an approach that inevitably leads to false positives. An increase in alerts produced by detecting friendly account takeover and false positives is also bad news for fraud teams, as it means they will have less time to focus on legitimate threats, as well as other high-value tasks such as identifying mule accounts and tracking down ‘mule-herders’.

 

A new approach to tackling friendly account takeover

Fortunately, a new approach to behavioural biometrics-based fraud prevention can help remediate this tricky issue. Part of this approach involves profiling users in a slightly different but crucial way. Instead of comparing them to bad actors, behavioural biometric analysis can be used to constantly analyse every user’s unique behaviour, such as the speed and pressure with which they type on their device. The data from this analysis can then be used to create a unique digital ID for each online customer, called “BionicID”. This allows fraud analysts to compare every individual user’s current behaviour to their own past behaviours instead of clusters of ‘bad’ users, and from this detect any anomalous behaviour as potential fraud. This analysis can also be used to attribute a ‘risk’ assessment to each alert, which will help fraud teams quickly decide on the most appropriate response.

In short, whilst the traditional profiling method asks users “Are you a bad actor?”, this new approach instead asks “Are you really you?”. Employing this more granular method of profiling means the introduction of an automated detection and response process can then effectively filter out circumstances of friendly account takeover. Using ‘active defence’ technology, institutions can configure automated alerts and responses to threats based on their risk-level, as provided by the continuous behavioural biometric analysis of each user.  In order to effectively tackle friendly account takeover, fraud analysts can configure this automated system to treat anomalous behaviour detected when friends or family are helping account owners as low risk. An automated response for this could then be set accordingly.

Additionally, a solution involving artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities will recognise the usual operations of the account to an extremely high degree of accuracy; if someone is helping their grandfather access his online banking services regularly, the bank will remember this as benign behaviour and will not trigger any stepped-up authentication.

Using this combined approach of an automated process based on behavioural biometrics and assessed risk ensures that financial institutions need not take any unnecessary action while still protecting customers. At the same time, it does not allow actual fraud to slip through the net, as all activity is still detected, alerted, and responded to depending on fraud analysts’ configurations.

 

Business

WHY A MULTI-ACQUIRER STRATEGY IS KEY TO GLOBAL GROWTH

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As online business grows exponentially, finally fulfilling the internet’s promise of a ‘global village’ in which anyone can buy and sell anything from anywhere, CellPoint Digital is providing merchants with the ability to increase conversions, reduce operational costs, and boost profits.

Typically, merchants retain long-term partnerships with a single acquirer that processes credit or debit payments on their behalf. However, leading merchants and payment services providers are increasingly finding that working with multiple acquirers can deliver compelling commercial benefits.

As a payment orchestration platform provider, CellPoint Digital connects merchants through a single API to the acquirers they want, that will support them on their growth journey. This ensures they can offer customers anywhere in the world the seamless payments experience that is so desired.

While many merchants still opt for traditional payment services, others are learning that this one-size-fits-all approach is becoming incompatible with a more complex and international eCommerce landscape.

Here Mark Patrick, Head of Global Payments at CellPoint Digital explores the concept of multi-acquirer strategies and touches upon the benefits to customers of CellPoint Digital’s solutions.

 

What is a multi-acquirer strategy?

A multi-acquirer strategy is one in which a merchant holds accounts with more than one acquirer which processes credit or debit card payments. Though introducing multiple players might at first appear to be a needless complication of a merchant’s payment ecosystem, the advantages of a multi-acquirer strategy are significant.

Factors such as the sector they operate in, their size, and the regions they cover all contribute to a merchant’s decision to diversify the number of acquirers they work with, but others are more universal.

Increased conversion rates – Increasing the completed number of sales is essential for achieving growth objectives, yet is impeded by the likes of declined transactions, abandoned carts and unsatisfactory customer experiences.

With increased payments acceptance – facilitated by more intelligent routing –  coupled with an ability to accept a wider range of payment methods, merchants are able to provide their customers with a greater mix of both domestic and international payment options.

Omnichannel support – Today’s merchants need to be able to take various forms of payments to maximise sales. As a result, omnichannel support and the flexibility it affords is a key benefit of deploying a multi-acquirer strategy.

With the migration towards digital channels gathering pace every day and the growth in alternative payments reaching record highs, consumer expectations are more sophisticated than they have ever been. They demand secure and seamless payment experiences across a range of channels and the ability to use their preferred payment methods.

Accommodating these diverse and changing consumer preferences while preserving growth requires merchants to modify their payment strategies through multiple acquirer relationships.

International growth – The transaction speeds and success rates of payment gateways can vary considerably depending on payment methods used and consumer location.

Smart routing offers a solution through the use of advanced data analytics and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). By analysing large datasets according to payment method and location, it can be determined which payment gateways will generate optimum returns per transaction. It means merchants can more effectively process payments, enhance revenues, and save on cross border transaction fees.

Merchants across the globe are now implementing these dynamic routing techniques on a much broader scale and boosting their transaction success rates both domestically and across borders.

Compliance support – With a greater online presence, more and more merchants are offering their services globally. However, meeting regulatory mandates as part of a global operation is complex.

With a Payment Orchestration Platform forming the bedrock of a multi-acquirer strategy, merchants access bespoke middleware designed to not only manage multiple PSPs but also achieve jurisdiction-based compliance.

The Platform provides the merchant with PCI compliance using flexible tokenisation of personal data and streamlines KYC and PSD2 management, helping the merchant ensure compliance while reducing compliance costs.

 

Less is not always more

The deeper we get into the digital age, the more it’s communicated to us that benefits are had by having less. Accessing operations through just one interface. Managing accounts through just one app. Completing digital transformation through just one provider.

For the most part, this is true. But it is not true when it comes to working with acquirers. By developing a multi-acquirer strategy, merchants can plug into different acquirers across the globe, helping them to expand cross border and avoid the need to navigate relationships with individual acquirers. And, with intelligent routing, each payment is processed in a way that works best for both merchants and customers alike.

 

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TAKE THE NO-CODE LEAP TO DIGITAL INNOVATION WITH A FUSION TEAM

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Chris Obdam, CEO, Betty Blocks

 

In the last couple of years, a new sector has emerged alongside enterprise financial organisations—an ecosystem of fast-growing Fintech startups that develop innovative solutions for the banking sector. These small, flexible startups and scale-ups began filling a gap the ‘big boys’ left quite some time ago. Then, they gained even more ground during the pandemic. According to KPMG, Fintech investments worldwide amounted to $98 billion USD in the first half of 2021, compared to $121.5 billion over the whole of 2020[1].

 

The massive surge has financial regulatory bodies scrambling to balance the benefits of modernising the industry with the necessity of strong oversight. But, what if traditional financial enterprises could combine their durability, reliability and years of experience with the flexibility of a startup? They can! More and more enterprise organisations are becoming agile, empowering digital-savvy colleagues and improving competitive value.

 

Fusion teams

Their approach? They break through patterns and almost literally through walls in their organisation. The most successful organisations team up with genuine problem solvers. It’s a solution-oriented approach, which can be really successful if governed the right way. We like to call it a fusion team, a team that empowers digitally-skilled and solution-oriented employees to work side-by-side with the IT department while using a low-code and no-code development platform.

 

Citizen development

A fusion team brings together people with diverse professional backgrounds who use data and technology to achieve shared business outcomes. Ideally, a fusion team combines pro-developers with citizen developers. A citizen developer is a business person without coding experience that builds apps using a no-code or low-code platform.

The purpose of the professional developer, in a fusion team, is not to train the citizen developer to become a pro-developer but to bring guidance and governance to the project. Before building successful software, a fusion team will require knowledge and guidance through the software development life cycle (SDLC) phases. IT feedback is crucial to helping a fusion team understand what makes good software and how new platforms can (or cannot) integrate into an existing system. Citizen developers should receive coaching to make decisions that lead to architecturally sound, value-adding applications.

 

What are the challenges that a fusion team can tackle?

  • Modernisation of legacy systems. Many banks have been around for years, expanded their software, but regularly have to deal with legacy systems or even a vendor lock-in.
  • Regulations can change fast; that’s why financial organisations need to increase flexibility and improve adaptability. A flexible layer on top of core systems or legacy systems can profit the whole organisation.
  • Counter shadow IT. Thousands of employees means that a lot of solutions are single handedly-built. All these solutions can be beneficial for the employees and even for your customers, but the thing is that they are not checked and governed by IT. For example, you run the risk that they are not meeting all your security requirements.
  • Digitisation of processes, like the onboarding process for customers, is still a long paper process within financials. What if this could be 100% digital and automated? This could save you a lot of repetitive work, energy and money.

 

Create an environment for innovation

Banks tend to have difficulties setting up the right conditions to empower the workforce to innovate towards the future. Our first reaction to possible security risks is to impose more rules and restrictions, while the solution lies in a coaching attitude, independent of strict regulations. You can empower digital transformation by using a no-code or low-code platform.

A fusion approach encourages better software governance, allowing IT to help mitigate the risks of shadow IT projects. With a no-code or low-code platform, you can combine existing secure systems, extract data more efficiently, effectively communicate and convey between systems and thus better manage qualitative information. Governance is not a simple process or a task to check off and forget about; the essential governance feature for low-code or no-code development is a platform provider with the flexibility to adapt to specific needs of an enterprise. The provider should be a partner in expanding the role of citizen developers within the organisation.

Taking the leap into no-code software development with a fusion team will empower the entire organisation in digital transformation. It’s a strategic move that helps enterprises become more resilient against unexpected challenges – such as a pandemic or new consumer demands. Furthermore, you create a modern and innovative working environment with digitally-capable and engaged employees.

 

[1] Source: KPMG:

https://home.kpmg/nl/en/home/media/press-releases/2021/09/record-fintech-investeringen-in-eerste-helft-2021.html

 

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