29 June, 2018 - 13:01 By News Desk

No Stranger to Innovation: How the UK is revolutionising the fight against global payments fraud

The UK has an illustrious track record of introducing revolutionary innovations, writes Dave Excell, founder and CTO of Cambridge technology business, Featurespace

Within the past 55 years, we’ve created Atlas (heralded as the world’s first supercomputer), developed the first portable computer and unveiled the first laptop (the Osborne 1 and the Grid Compass, respectively). And thanks to Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, we can even cite the UK as the birthplace of the World Wide Web. 

That impressive pedigree of bright-minded engineers, scientists and tech pioneers continues today and I’m proud to say that Featurespace is a product of this environment. 

Our success in the UK is evidence of the effectiveness of our unique adaptive behavioural analytics in fighting fraud for the financial services organisations that we serve. However, the fight against fraud is a challenge that poses a serious threat beyond our borders, which is why we expanded to the US late last year. 

Establishing an Atlanta-based headquarters gives us an essentially strategic North American presence that allows us to serve our existing US clients more effectively, while also allowing us to introduce ourselves and our services to companies in the Americas. 

While the geography is different, the challenge here is very familiar. Payments fraud across the Pond is following a similar pattern as it did here. 

In the US, chip cards were deployed about 10 years after they were in the UK and while there’s been a reduction of in-person fraud, online purchase fraud has increased significantly. 

The good news is that the lag in deployment provided us with an additional decade of experience in fighting fraud and those who perpetuate it, giving us an incredible advantage in balancing the detection and prevention of illegitimate activity, while maximising the number of genuine transactions that come through. 

Traditionally, the approach relied on the manual writing of rules that are effective at combating known types of fraud, but this inflexibility makes it virtually impossible to distinguish a good transaction from a bad one. 

Recognising this, we partner with our clients to establish a defence rooted in finesse and agility, using machine learning that continuously adapts to the consumer, identifies their normal behaviours and detects any anomalies that are indicative of fraud. 

This advanced self-learning system, which is the result of more than 30 years of research on human behaviour and the brainpower of some of the world’s best analysts and data scientists, allows us to consistently improve the accuracy in predicting payments fraud to protect our clients and their customers. 

Ultimately, it’s our mission to risk score every transaction on the planet and we’re dedicated to that mission here at home and in the US, where we’re proudly flying the British flag.


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