Super apps are a way of life in the East. From WeChat to Alipay, the rise of all-in-one apps has resulted in billions of people carrying out a large part of their mobile activities from a single app. Whether it’s messaging friends, ordering groceries, ridesharing, or banking, super apps have it all. But they haven’t entirely made it to the West. Whilst there is some adoption in Latin America, Europe, the U.S. lags behind. But this will soon change. Buzz is building among some big financial giants and tech companies such as Paypal, Uber, and Facebook – who have all hinted at going super.
These umbrella apps offer exceptional convenience to the consumer. Unfortunately, they’re convenient for fraudsters too. So, as the concept picks up steam and companies enter the super app fray, are they prepared for the fraud-related risks that follow them?
Why fraudsters target super apps
The more services an app offers, the more opportunities that exist to exploit it. For example, if you’re a ride-hailing app launching an e-wallet, you might want to run a promotion to try and attract fresh customers. However, fraudsters will now be able to target your e-wallet and any associated promotions, not just your ride-hailing function.
Mobile app fraud is also cheaper to carry out and less noticeable than online fraud and is typically aimed right where the money flows in and out – transactions. This said, mobile app fraud can occur at any point in the user journey, not just the transaction phase. There are many nooks and crannies for fraudsters to hide, and they emerge whenever the opportunity arises.
How fraud happens
Here are a few of the ways that criminals target super apps.
- Account takeovers. Fraudsters often take over legitimate accounts using either social engineering or password cracking tools. They can then commit fraud immediately or masquerade as the good guy until they attack. They often make unauthorized purchases, abuse promotions, or take advantage of incentives.
- Fake accounts. Fake accounts tend to be set up using stolen or falsified personal details. Fraudsters will also create many at once so they can maximize the amount of damage done. To do this, they will often use several different malicious tools such as VPNs, GPS spoofers, and emulators to make each account look like it comes from a different device. When you realize an account is fake, it’s usually too late. Fraud has likely been committed.
- Referral abuse. It’s widespread, and almost everybody has tried it once or twice. A friend refers you to a service and you both get discount codes. Then your friend refers you again, but you use a different email to register. It’s done often, but technically it’s fraud. Professional fraudsters do this too, except they use malicious tools to create multiple fake accounts to refer themselves hundreds and thousands of times.
- Payment fraud. Today, millions of stolen card details exist on the dark web, often obtained through data breaches or phishing scams. After a fraudster makes a purchase, the real card owner files a chargeback and the merchant loses out on funds and inventory. Left unchecked, this can result in severe financial damage.
How super apps can stop all fraud and abuse
When fraudsters constantly change their attack patterns, traditional fraud prevention methods are ineffective. Solutions need to be precise, targeted, and adaptable to minimize false positives whilst still stopping fraud. At the same time, implementing over-complicated security measures pushes users away. Done correctly, businesses will see less fraud, more growth, and happier customers.
The first place to start is by creating a digital fingerprint of every device in your ecosystem. With a fraud prevention solution, this can be done in milliseconds. This device fingerprint can then be used to detect and flag changes to the device that are considered risky. Another important step in determining a device’s ‘riskiness’ involves understanding exactly which malicious tools and techniques are being used. Together, insights like these can help you identify and block any fraudulent activity.
Becoming a super app does come with its risks. As businesses offer added functionality and features, their complex ecosystems become more vulnerable. To dominate the market and focus on profits, you need to detect and mitigate risks before fraud is committed. Otherwise, your super app could lead to super losses.