Preventing and fighting fraud with next-generation identity signal

Thursday 7 March 2024 10:19 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Interview

We interviewed Incognia's CEO and Co-Founder, André Ferraz, to learn more about the company’s vision, innovation in location identity, and the crucial role a proactive approach to fraud prevention should play in business strategies.

Could you share a brief overview of Incognia, insights into your professional backgrounds, and what inspired you to establish the company?

My father was a computer science professor, and growing up around computers inevitably made them a passion of mine. As I got older and learned more about the Internet of Things (IoT), I realised my passion lied with understanding security flaws within these machines and how they can be updated to be safer for the end-user. It was clear that authentication systems we were using at the time were not going to work as technology continued to evolve.

‘The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.’ This quote from Mark Weiser, who is widely considered to be the father of ubiquitous computing guided me to come up with a new model of identifying users that both provided maximum security and a frictionless experience. This new model wouldn’t depend on collecting users’ documents, biometrics, or contact information, but it would be invisible. 

Defining this new category didn’t come without its challenges, but my co-founders and I found our niche in ad tech with a product that reshaped mobile marketing for physical retailers using indoor location technology. The core product used our location tech to optimise mobile ads to bring foot traffic to the physical stores. The company experienced fast success, and in less than five years, we expanded to over 200 employees. However, with COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions, our offering became obsolete. 

The new reality became the perfect opportunity to go back to my first passion – fraud prevention and creating a frictionless experience to keep users safe online. Incognia was launched at the end of 2020, and, almost four years later, the business is thriving. 

Could you elaborate on the industry challenges Incognia aims to solve, and whom these solutions target?

Incognia operates in five main industries: food delivery, ride sharing/ride hailing, peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces/ ecommerce, and financial services, each industry with its unique challenges. 

For instance, the food delivery industry faces three main challenges – courier scams, promo/refund abuse, and payment fraud. Incognia enables these food delivery companies to analyse location behaviour and device signals to prevent users from creating multiple accounts and abusing promotions, protect the safety of users, and fight fraud. It achieves this by scanning the use of app tampering and location spoofing, and identifying repeated offenders creating, renting, or sharing multiple accounts. 

Our work in the ride-sharing industry is similar – we help detect location spoofing and multiple account creation to prevent account sharing, promo abuse, ban evasion, and collusion. As a result of our tech, we were able to reduce promo abuse by 80% and driver fraud by 94%. 

P2P marketplaces are targets of various types of fraud. Incognia helped verify users and their addresses worldwide by using real-time and precise location data and device intelligence to approve new customers and listings, block bad actors, and ensure that fraudsters cannot make multiple accounts to bypass safety measures. Ecommerce is related to P2P marketplaces in that we ensure that bad actors cannot create multiple accounts or fake accounts to scam unsuspecting consumers. 

Financial services and online payments resonate more with the broader public because it is easier to visualise financial losses within this space. Incognia's spoof-proof location identity detects synthetic identity fraud, protects user accounts, and secures transactions throughout the user journey. Simply put, Incognia ensures that online transactions are secure, preventing things like account takeovers and payment fraud. 

Reflecting on the path of Incognia, what would you consider to be the key milestones that have marked the company's journey thus far?

The first key milestone goes back to finding our niche in the market. From there, it was about receiving outside validation for our purpose, work, and application for our technology. We knew our product was great but wanted other people to see that too.

Closing a Series A funding in June of 2022, just 18 months after launching, we managed to propel our growth and build an extensive solution bench, ultimately leading us to securing a Series B round, in January 2024. Incognia currently focuses on expanding its presence in North America, Europe, and APAC, as well as expanding into new verticals, including consumer Internet, financial services, and ecommerce.

Can you share with us the significance of the USD 31 million Series B funding for Incognia and how it aligns with the company's future trajectory?

We are grateful to our partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, FJ Labs, Point72 Ventures, Prosus, and Valor Capital, and the funding represents further recognition of Incognia’s innovative approach to fraud prevention. Our ability to detect fraud before it happens is critical in the world we live in today. Our purpose now, apart from the aforementioned geographical expansion, is to also deepen our product offerings to stay at the forefront of fraud prevention. The demand for this type of technology is only growing, and the financing will enable us to meet that demand.




Given your experiences and expertise operating in Brazil, what insights or learnings can you share that you believe other regions could benefit from?

Something I’ve noticed operating in different markets is that the gig economy faces different challenges depending on where you are. For example, in Brazil, a major challenge they face is promo abuse and chargebacks on the consumer side and payment scams against end consumers using mPOS committed by couriers. Whereas, in the US, the use of location spoofing techniques for couriers to go on longer and more profitable routes and users creating multiple accounts to take advantage of first-order free meals are some of the challenges. Both instances demonstrate the need for user verification for end consumers and drivers/couriers of every platform in order to ensure that only legitimate users are accessing the platform. 

There are also some key insights related to instant payments. The impact of real-time payments extends beyond just financial services – into industries like online marketplaces, social media, and dating apps. With the ability to transfer funds instantly, scammers and fraudsters can more easily target victims through these platforms, creating fake profiles, luring victims with the promise of goods or services and requesting payment before disappearing with the funds. 

Just like financial institutions, social media and dating apps need to implement stricter verification processes to ensure the authenticity of user accounts. Online marketplaces should require sellers to provide proof of their identity and location before listing items for sale and implement measures to prevent fraudulent listings and transactions.

Looking ahead, what can be expected from Incognia in terms of strategic direction and priorities for growth and development in 2024 and beyond? 

Over the next few quarters, we will focus on adding location capabilities to the web implementation of our cross-device fingerprint to round out our current solution offering. Additionally, analysis of the web implementation of our cross-device fingerprint will be added to the Incognia client dashboard, which offers summaries of real-time risk analysis as well as detailed account views. 

From a strategic direction standpoint, our top priority is expansion. In addition to expanding our solutions, we also aim to expand our global footprint and our expertise into different verticals. 

About André Ferraz

André Ferraz is the Co-Founder and CEO of Incognia, the innovator in location identity solutions that delivers cutting-edge user verification and account security across the digital journey. As a seasoned entrepreneur and technologist, Ferraz has co-developed one of the most precise location technologies in the world. He started his first company at University in Brazil, and, before Incognia, Ferraz founded In Loco, an ad tech business acquired in 2020. Ferraz and his team have spent over a decade perfecting the location technology that has been recognised by ACM, IEEE, and Microsoft Research for its unmatched performance and precision. 


About Incognia

Incognia is the innovator in location identity solutions that deliver cutting-edge user verification and account security across the digital journey. Leveraging over a decade of expertise in location technology, Incognia's novel approach provides frictionless experiences using device intelligence and the most precise location data available. Incognia enables customisable risk analysis and actionable insights from day one that empower consumer businesses to prevent fraud, protect users and build customer trust. 

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Keywords: digital identity, fraud detection, online fraud, fraud management, fraud prevention, location, account takeover, scam, marketplace, fintech, ecommerce, risk management, mPOS, gig economy, IOT
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Companies: Incognia
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime


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