Voice of the Industry

The fraud prevention state of play: too many vendors, too little transparency

Wednesday 4 December 2019 08:50 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Voice of the industry

Roberto Valerio of Risk42 shares his view on the way some solution providers present their offers – some go for openness; some send marketing messages far off from any reality
Fraud Prevention and Online Authentication Report 2019/2020 Fraud Prevention and Online Authentication Report 2019/2020

Too many vendors in a crowded space?

Looking at the news from the last few months, there seems to be an ever-rising number of new fraud prevention software tools and services on the market. Some of them are offered by completely new companies, which bring in some advanced technical knowledge. Others are new versions of existing tools from legacy vendors, where the new vocabulary of today is added: ‘Now with Machine Learning’ or ‘We added some AI’.

Furthermore, we see tools being bundled to address the growing list of requirements of customers. RFP documents became long Excel sheets. Every aspect of fraud detection has to be addressed, from real-time decisions in milliseconds to sophisticated machine learning models, ideally performing well without good training data (labels), completely unsupervised. All of this as a service per transaction without any setup costs.

Sales pressure made venture-backed vendors starting to tick all the boxes. And they would offer deals too good to be true. I have seen vendors offering 18 months of free testing. And I have seen vendors paying the client to be able to test and to promote the client as a newly won customer.

I understand the fast-pace metrics of this venture startup market since I am part of it. I have spent 6 years building a fraud prevention startup within Germany. And a year ago I started my second startup within risk assessment, covering credit scoring and fraud detection for financial products, including consumer loans and payment transactions.

I know that pure software solutions can generate the highest gross margins. And I know the sales pressure arising when you are used to grow your business by more than 50% year to year.

Not enough transparency on the vendor side?

But to be honest, it is time to get back to reasonable expectations on both sides of the negotiation table. I have seen many vendors being quite open about what they can achieve and where they still face real challenges for detecting and preventing fraud. Unfortunately, there is no ‘fraud-free world’, and there are no machine learning models that will identify new fraud patterns within millions of transactions in 20 milliseconds. We all know that but we still accept marketing messages that are far off from any reality.

Fraud Prevention and Online Authentication Report 2019/2020


Having spent quite some time with the Merchant Risk Council, as part of the European Advisory Board as well, I realised how disparate marketing communication became from real business. I like real business. My team and I were always proud when we managed to reduce fraud at a customers business significantly. I am realistic enough to believe that maybe quite a few companies within our space could have done the same. But in the end, there are more aspects to a successful client-vendor relationship than just the numbers. 

Understanding the client’s needs  

You want to make sure you understand the challenges your customer is facing. We have seen business models where it does not make sense to completely automate fraud prevention, even if it optimises the gross margin of the fraud prevention vendor. We have seen cases where a certain level of fraud was vital for the overall business model, since the false-positive rate would have been higher and good customers would have been lost, while fraud-related cost savings were neglectable.


Fraud Prevention and Online Authentication Report 2019/2020


So there are cases where customers’ real needs are not aligned with the vendor’s business objectives. Additionally, fraud became an ever-growing and complex challenge, so I believe that vendors should really have a look at their current product and service offerings and ask themselves if they are really able and capable to solve all different use cases. A lot of vendors would win more business by specialising in specific product types or specific industries, not by generalising their product portfolio.

Partnerships are the future

Which brings me to another aspect of our business on the vendor side: Partnerships. I think there is a lot to win if different vendors within the fraud prevention space would seek more collaboration. This contradicts some venture-capital backed business mantra to ‘win the whole market’ – but with fraud being a constantly changing issue large businesses should probably not rely on a single company’s product line. It can be a huge advantage to work with two or more vendors to get different insights and a larger amount of knowledge from multiple sources.

I think there will be a lot of movement within the fraud prevention space in 2020 and 2021. There are lots of opportunities for us as vendors to secure and support our customers’ business. I am looking forward to seeing more openness and more successful partnerships within our space.

About Roberto Valerio

Roberto is an experienced entrepreneur who builds software startups from the first product idea into a scalable sales-oriented product company. He is the founder and managing director of Risk42. Before, he was the founder and chief executive of Risk Ident, a company offering fraud prevention solutions. He plays an active role within the European payment and risk management industry.


About Risk42

Risk42 offers a sophisticated credit and risk scoring platform to enterprise customers within ecommerce, financial services, and retail banking. Clients are payment services providers, retail banks, and other financial institutions. Risk42 was founded in September 2018.


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Keywords: Risk42, risk assessment, technology vendor, fraud prevention, solution providers
Categories: Securing Transactions | Digital Identity, Security & Online Fraud
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Securing Transactions