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CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, STORE CLOSURES, SHIFT CONSUMER BUYING BEHAVIOUR LEADING TO ACCELERATED DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION FOR MERCHANTS

CORONAVIRUS

Forter Issues First In A Monthly Series of Coronavirus Special Reports 


Forter, the leader in e-commerce fraud prevention, today announced the release of the Forter Special Report on the Impact of Coronavirus on Consumer and Fraudster Behaviour. The report provides merchants across industries with insight into trends seen within the $150B in transactions that Forter processes annually.

As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the globe, government responses have included enforced social distancing and financial support to beleaguered economies. Merchants who sell non-essential goods have responded by closing physical stores, and in some regions also their online operations. Consumers have begun to shift their purchases, even those of essential items such as groceries, online.

The Forter Special Report tracks trends and spikes in consumer behaviour as well as innovative methods that opportunistic fraudsters take to prey on consumers during this unprecedented and unpredictable time.

“Merchants are scrambling to cut costs, reduce the impact of fraud, scale efficiently, and deliver a consistent customer experience to meet rising consumer online buying behaviour,” said Michael Reitblat, CEO and co-Founder of Forter. “The aftermath of the pandemic will accelerate digital transformation among merchants as consumer shopping habits adapt.”

Covering industries including travel, fashion and beauty, food and beverage, marketplaces, and more, The Forter Special Report uncovers consumer buying trends such as:

  • The travel industry has been extremely hard hit. Regional variations are appearing, in particular an increase in purchases of inbound international travel to China in the weeks before the country closed down inbound travel on 26 March. Data in the last month points to “optimistic travel” in which the travel date is 120 or more days following booking. Such bookings now account for 65% of travel purchases.
  • The food and beverage industry has seen a dramatic increase in online purchases. New accounts now represent 15-25% of all customer volume, compared to 5-7% prior to the pandemic. As merchants struggle to manage the increased volume and meet expectations of new customers, we are seeing an increase in service chargebacks.

Fraudsters are exploiting confusion and uncertainty caused by government and corporate policies:

  • As people adjust to working from home, Forter sees a marked increase in social engineering fraud, associated with fake emails purporting to be from HR and corporate addresses. Here fraudsters invite people to click for more information, instead taking victims to malicious sites.
  • With a shift to online shopping in Apparel and Accessories, we see an increase in gift card purchases. While a higher number of legitimate buyers usually means that fraud rates drop, gift card fraud rates have not. Fraudsters have noticed an increased demand of the completely virtual merchandise that is easy to monetise.

In its recent report, “Mitigate Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Impacts With Digital Commerce (March 2020),” Gartner asserts that “the COVID-19 outbreak will negatively impact business performance in the short term as offline activities are cancelled and online orders overwhelm delivery capacities. Application leaders can mitigate the impact and ensure continuity of operations by accelerating digital commerce initiatives.”

 

“With more consumers experiencing buying online, we expect merchants who hadn’t considered e-Commerce as a viable platform to now try it,” continued Reitblat. “Merchants that had already adopted e-Commerce struggle to meet this increase in demand. Working collaboratively from home and hiring to meet the volume create obstacles for those who manually review transactions for fraud.”

Forter’s integrated fraud prevention platform delivers real-time decisions at every point of the customer journey from account sign up and login, to purchase, and to returns. The system is tailored for each merchant based on its unique business requirements, pairing merchant feedback with Forter’s expertise.

Forter’s growing Global Merchant Network includes over 620 million consumers globally and 97% of online US consumers. Links among known consumers and those new to the network allow the platform to infer trust, resulting in higher accuracy without the need to manually review transactions and interactions.

With the Forter platform merchants can expect an up to 90% reduction in false declines, recapturing otherwise lost revenue and delivering the best possible buying experience to their consumers, with an up to 90% decrease in chargebacks due to fraudulent activity. Forter allows merchants to scale and accelerate their digital transformation strategies even in an uncertain time.

“Rules based systems by their nature look at the past and adapt to it,” said Reitblat. “New consumer behaviours, which we’re seeing across industries, as well as new fraud behaviours, are missed by these systems until they can adapt. Forter’s identity-based system authenticates the buyer, not just the behaviour.”

Together with the Special Report, Forter has also issued its Eighth Fraud Attack Index, highlighting industry trends and innovative fraud vectors, showing the evolution of fraud, comparing H2 2019 to H2 2018. The report features the continued evolution of fraud attack vectors across all customer touchpoints, demonstrating the need to protect merchants’ digital offerings at all interactions in the customer journey, from account abuse to payment abuse to policy abuse.

News

BRICKENDON STRENGTHENS SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM, PROPELLING FURTHER GROWTH IN 2021

Transformational consultancy appoints new Director of Financial Services, Strategy & Business Development alongside a series of senior promotions

 

Brickendon, the transformational consultancy is announcing a new senior hire and a set of senior promotions as the business thrives and looks to generate further growth in 2021 through a focus on employee engagement and advocacy.

The business experienced strong growth in the Banking & Government sectors throughout the second half of 2020, due to an innovative focus across its three key areas of specialism: digital, data and automation with particular attention on DevOps and Agile methodologies. This success has been underpinned by its expertise in delivering complex change projects for highly regulated organisations and a continued expansion into international markets.

Among the announcements, Brickendon has appointed Will McDonald as its new Director of Financial Services, Strategy & Business Development. McDonald been tasked with aligning the expertise of Brickendon’s consulting workforce to client needs, fast tracking Brickendon’s growth in international markets and driving customer advocacy. He brings over 20 years of experience in Enterprise technology, working across Asia, Europe and North America and most recently at Telstra Global, where he led the Financial Services Industry segment for EMEA.

 

McDonald comments “I’m very excited to join Brickendon at such a pivotal time. 2020 has accelerated a lot of change, and all businesses must recalibrate to remain competitive and thrive in this challenging recovery period. The enabling forces of Digitisation, Cloud and Automation are unlocking incredible productivity, yet people and expertise are still critical to success.  At Brickendon our people have incredible talent for identifying and solving complex challenges faced by our clients.  Our customers recognize this, and we have built a loyal following amongst them. My role is to amplify the work that the team has achieved over the years and create platforms for a loud chorus of customer advocacy to be heard”

Brickendon’s continued success also marks the promotion of Bala Ethirajalu to Partner, Global Head of Delivery and Maureen McKinley to Senior Manager as both individuals played a critical part in the helping the business thrive.

Bala has been with Brickendon for over eight years and has been instrumental in building a high performing delivery team, whilst defining Brickendon’s technology strategy and setting a culture of employee empowerment.  Brickendon’s clients and team members have embraced the leadership values, innovation and accountability that Bala has championed and driven across the entire business. Bala has also successfully led the team to win the prestigious TESTA awards in 2013 and 2016 as well as securing seven consecutive finalist nominations.

 

Bala comments “If we create an environment of employee engagement and empowerment, everything else falls into place, we do better and more creative work for our clients, as well, we more easily attract, nurture and retain exceptional talent in the organization. I’m delighted to take up my new senior position at Brickendon, and look forward to all the future successes of our team as the business continues to thrive”

Similarly, Maureen McKinley has been part of the Brickendon team since 2013, and her new senior role will support the wider leadership team and grow the Poland based Brickendon practice. Maureen is a trusted advisor and contributor to her clients and has continued to raise the bar both in the work she conducts for them and as a leader within Brickendon.

 

Christopher Burke, CEO, Brickendon, comments “Brickendon was called upon by our financial services clients as they navigated the turbulent start to 2020. As a business leader and founder, I’m proud of our team and how we rallied around our clients as they faced unprecedented challenges. Our new set of senior promotions and hires signify a big step towards the growth trajectory which we’ve planned out for the year ahead and I’m in no doubt that Will, Maureen and Bala will play pivotal roles in driving this forward.”

 

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FUNDS’ RUSH TO THE CLOUD MUST NOT BE A BOX TICKING EXERCISE

By Ed Gouldstone, Global Head of R&D for Asset Management at Linedata

 

The fund management industry has held up remarkably well against the strains of Covid-19 – from a dramatic spike in market volatility to the sudden shift to remote working. However, the quantum leap in digitalisation spurred on by the pandemic has underscored the disparities between fund houses’ journeys to cloud – some are quite far along, while others are quickly having to play catch-up.

However, the need to rapidly advance digitalisation efforts must not result in cloud migration becoming a box ticking exercise. Some managers may be tempted by the convenience of a ‘lift and shift’ approach. That is, simply building their cloud infrastructure as if it was their existing data centre without optimising it for cloud. This is by far the quickest option but, if rushed, it doesn’t necessarily bring the cost-saving and flexibility benefits that managers are looking for. Cloud provides for advanced levels of security that go beyond traditional deployed models, but only when the necessary tools are put in place. Fund managers therefore need to put in the required thinking beforehand, to ensure the optimisation and any necessary re-engineering of tools whilst accelerating shift to the cloud.

 

The risks of rushing cloud adoption

Elasticity is one particular area where cost savings come from in the cloud, because cloud is designed to scale up and down as and when you need it. When migrating infrastructure to the cloud, fund managers must ensure that the all applications are optimised in a way that enables horizontal scalability, as many legacy applications are built around a fixed number of servers. This could impede the potential to quickly scale up operations in rapidly changing markets, inhibiting fund managers’ growth ambitions and ability to compete.

Ed Gouldstone

Another risk of rushing the transition to cloud, is that a lift and shift approach can actually increase costs when computing and storage practises are not rationalised. Migrating existing infrastructure as it is also means migrating all existing inefficiencies along with it, such as zombie servers, duplicated workloads, and outdated records. By not doing the due diligence to ensure excess computing capacity is left behind, companies could seriously diminish the cost savings they would have otherwise enjoyed.

Building resilience into operations is of paramount importance for fund managers who are planning to migrate to the cloud. Although infrastructure is more secure with cloud, the greater accessibility it allows means that points of entry on the client side can be weak spots if not properly protected. This must not become overlooked in a rushed cloud migration. Unlike with private data centres and VPN access where hardware offers protection, extra layers of authentication need to be added to endpoints to ensure the security of the system, while enabling access from any device. This is even more necessary in our highly regulated industry, where fund managers are dealing with large client funds and processing vast quantities of real-time financial data.

 

Realising the opportunities provided by cloud

When handled correctly, a successful migration to cloud offers fund managers a great opportunity to drive digital transformation, scale their businesses and upgrade the technology they rely on. Perhaps the biggest driver for cloud adoption, the pay as you go, on-demand scalability offered by cloud providers, enables rapid growth and reduces costs. Previously, in order to scale up, businesses would have to install new hardware and pay for its maintenance, as well as acquire the physical space that new servers take up. This process is much slower and more expensive than the quickly scalable, pay-as-you-go cloud, but expert guidance is crucial to avoid the aforementioned risk of transferring excess computing power, and ensuring applications are scalable so that potential cost savings are realised.

Another major driver to migrate infrastructure to the cloud is the data analytics capabilities available. The cloud’s ability to support data lakes that can store structured and unstructured data at any scale and operate real-time analytics, provides unique opportunities to create new insights and therefore greater value. The data lakes enable better use of the artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that are reaching maturity and are increasingly mission critical. This is crucial in a market where margins are getting smaller and traditional investment models are being challenged. Analytics can create value throughout all operations, from the front office through to the back office, whether it is sentiment analysis of client engagement, or reducing operating costs through process automation.

In terms of security, while moving to public cloud does imply some inherent loss of in-house control compared to historic ‘installed’ technology models, the bottom line is that cloud providers offer robust levels of security unmatched by in-house technology installations. But it is still critical that firms have the requisite knowledge about cloud deployment and cybersecurity, or partner with a technology service provider that does, who can protect endpoints with new identity and access measures such as two-factor authentication.

The need to migrate to cloud infrastructure has become more pressing at a time when fund managers are increasingly introducing flexible working for the long-term. While implementing a cloud first business strategy is now considered crucial for longevity, it must not be rushed at the risk of costly mistakes and the perpetuation of outdated operating models that limit adaptability. A rapid, productive cloud migration is still possible, but firms need to ensure they have well-considered plans and strong partnerships with experts in place to ensure success.

 

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