There’s no doubt that all this staying home is boring, so it’s no wonder people have picked up new hobbies since the start of the pandemic. Some folks have taken to puzzles or Sudoku, while others prefer to binge watch every season of Ozark. Criminals were not immune either, picking up new skills and accelerating their attacks.
Criminal activity spiked over the COVID-19 timeline. Staying home has created new vulnerabilities as most of our commerce and financial lives have gone online. The result has been a dramatic uptick in fraud, with most fraudulent activity being email-based phishing attacks as well as attempts to take over accounts and create accounts with synthetic data.
To further discuss fraud in the marketplace and how financial technology experts like Refinitiv and newly acquired GIACT are combatting the recent influx in fraud activity, PaymentsJournal sat down with Melissa Townsley-Solis, Head of GIACT, James Mirfin, Head of Digital Identity and Financial Crime at Refinitiv, and Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group.
What is Refinitiv?
Refinitiv was founded in 2018 and is a global provider of financial market data. It serves more than 40,000 institutions in nearly 190 countries and provides information, technology, and insights that look to revolutionize the global financial markets.
“The risk business, which I sit within and the GIACT business is now coming into, is a business that has been very focused on helping customers fight financial crime, particularly around risk intelligence data, individuals and entities that prevent heightened regulatory risk, and due diligence,” remarked Mirfin. And over the last year or so, Refinitiv has moved into areas like digital identity and expanding out its offerings.
“It’s a risk business focused on financial crime prevention,” added Mirfin. Refinitiv plans to use GIACT’s fraud detection services to enhance its capabilities and help customers deal with threats of fraud.
Fraud in the marketplace
Over the past few years, FIs and other money management companies have been looking to take a more integrated approach in combating financial crime. They are seeking out platform connections that they can share data and intelligence to and bring into the workflow that they’re designing for their customers. “We’re all consumers,” said Mirfin. “We all carry mobile devices. We all expect these great friction-free experiences, and we expect them from our banks. We expect them from our wealth managers, we expect them from payment providers and marketplaces.”
But one of the main trends in the marketplace in terms of fraud is that many of these fraudsters are well-funded, educated, and very patient, which differs from cyber criminals a decade ago. “I think a lot of that has happened around everyone moving to a digital world, and COVID-19 really just press[ed] that forward and brought everybody and brought it into reality for everyone,” added Townsley-Solis.
Now there are fraud operators with exuberant funds at their disposal, which allows them to create synthetic identities and build up credit over time. Because of the apparent legitimacy of these accounts, cyber criminals are walking away with millions of dollars before anybody notices. With faster payments and everyone moving to a more digital society, fraud is also moving at a faster pace.
What does this mean for financial institutions? They must rethink their solution. “And what they’re realizing is that in order to win against the fraud that is happening today, you have to have a complete look, you can’t go out and piece through your solution anymore because it doesn’t work,” continued Townsley-Solis. This is why more companies are looking toward platforms like Refinitiv to address potential fraud from the minute a person comes into the space.
GIACT’s integration into Refinitiv
Refinitiv looks to take the best of the best from the financial industry and use it to serve the customers on its platform. The combination of GIACT’s EPIC Platform alongside Refinitiv’s leading risk and compliance products – including World-Check, Qual-ID and its Enhanced Due Diligence service – will help customers transact with increased confidence and reduced risk throughout the customer lifecycle.
“Some of the data management tools that we have, and other technologies that we’re applying around the way we manage huge sets of data, which we both have, we’re going to certainly leverage,” explained Mirfin. “The intent is to quickly make World Check available to the EPIC [Platform] customers that are using that EPIC Platform.” And with the speed in which they can bring in data, the integrated platform certainly has a lot to offer customers. Their combined data is both unique and impressive and will help them to mitigate payment fraud, money laundering, synthetic identity, and other cybercrimes for their customers.
But Refinitiv does not plan on stopping with this single acquisition. It will continue to look at acquisitions that make sense in terms of investment in the platform. “This is how people are going to be able to control and mitigate and keep ahead of fraud,” added Townsley-Solis. Customers depend on the company that controls their platform to be innovative, so that the can complete their transactions with confidence.
Refinitiv does not plan to disappoint. “We’ll continue to be innovative, to add products and services to the platform, and to continue to help our customers stay ahead of fraud,” concluded Townsley-Solis.
What Refinitiv is looking to accomplish
Refinitiv and GIACT are bringing their products together so that people can consume them under one platform, along with plans for further integration of services to enhance the customer experience. But “it’s not just about the technology,” emphasized Townsley-Solis. “The data that you feed into that platform is critical.” That’s why they are invested in bringing the best data and making sure it is 100% accurate, pulling from both traditional and credible alternative data.
A one contract, one integration platform model is also a goal at the center of the recent acquisition. It is important for the customers to transact with confidence under the GIACT and Refinitiv platform and to know that they are continuously investing in improving and adding to the network. Refinitiv will introduce GIACT to Refinitiv’s customer base of around 10,000 customers globally, and it hopes to see GIACT continue its growth and capture a larger share of the market.
“We’re continually investing in approving and adding to the platform because we are committed to providing the industry leading platform for fraud and risk,” concluded Townsley-Solis. “And that’s one thing that we’re all sure about: we will be the leader in this space.”