Outlook 2022: “Fraud and Scams Will Continue to Grow and Evolve”

Saeed Ahmad, the Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa at Callsign, says the company will focus on making digital identity simple and secure

How was 2021 for the industry and your company?
2021 has further enhanced the region’s digital trends and transformed consumer habits and preferences. We’ve seen consumers’ interest in digital payments soar, with about 90% of Middle East consumers opting to stick with digital payments in the post-pandemic era.

As more and more consumers, businesses, and financial institutions interact online, we’ve seen that bad actors have increasingly targeted vulnerable users. Our research revealed 66% of people in the UAE had received messages from scammers masquerading as their bank. E-commerce and retail are, unsurprisingly, not far behind, with 50% of UAE customers receiving a scam message purporting to be from retailers.

APP fraud, particularly where victims are tricked into making a payment to another account, has seen a substantial rise. It’s a type of fraud that is notoriously difficult to detect and prevent and one that the industry has been trying to tackle.

When we moved online, authentication processes from the physical world were digitized rather than re-designed for the digital world. The trouble is that digitized processes lack security, aren’t privacy-preserving, and are usually cumbersome. At Callsign, we believe that fraud, scams, bots, social engineering, and malware are symptoms of the bigger problem – that digital identity is broken. Throughout this year, we’ve supported regional organizations in bolstering and enhancing their authentication processes to preserve their customer’s digital identity.

What promises does 2022 bring along?
If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that fraud and scams will continue to grow and evolve. Bad actors constantly innovate new attack vectors and ways to defraud people and organizations. No industry or channel is immune to scams and fraud. MEA customers received scams through email (64%), SMS (67%), phone (44%), messaging apps (45%), and social media (36%) in the last year.

As our reliance on digital platforms and payments continues to rise, scams and fraud will likely accompany this increase. However, we anticipate that organizations will rise to the occasion by prioritizing secure yet seamless user experiences. Organizations have realized that protecting their user’s digital identities is paramount. In the following year, more and more businesses will wake up to the importance of security and re-think how they fight fraud.

Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
We’ve recently seen various governments, regulators, and private sector organizations seek to enhance online customer authentication through regulations and more robust technologies and processes. Often these measures leverage different forms of biometric technology to assist with reliable identity verification and authentication methods.

For example, AI-driven facial recognition, digital fingerprints, and iris scans are increasingly adopted in industries across UAE. Moreover, earlier this year, the UAE government announced that it would use facial biometrics technology to allow citizens and residents to register for “UAE Pass,” a first-of-its-kind digital national ID. Similarly, more organizations in the region will adopt technologies to streamline authentication and verification processes.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2022?
To fight the rising tide of fraud, scams, and social engineering attacks, organizations will seek solutions that maximize their user’s privacy and security while providing a seamless digital experience.

Moreover, businesses are realizing that user experience is more important than ever for enhancing brand loyalty. We can expect the desire for a common user experience across mobile and desktop to be the factor that catalyses password-less adoption. Unified log-in experiences will become more prominent in 2022, catalysing the extinction of traditional log-in methods
We also expect businesses to adopt behavioural biometrics – a step further from physical biometrics.

Behavioral biometrics (such as how someone holds and swipes on their phone, types in their password, or moves a mouse on a computer) provides privacy-preserving, frictionless, accessible, and inclusive methods to authenticate users in robust and failsafe ways.

Artificial intelligence technologies are already widely adopted across the region. In 2022, we will see more organizations utilizing AI in identity access management. This involves applications that allow organizations to manage business logic around handling customer journeys. Therefore, companies will no longer have to manually review authentication factors but set certain boundaries and let the system decide for them within those boundaries. This will drive efficiencies when it comes to the cost of operations of systems in enterprises.

What will be your key focus areas for 2022?
Our focus for 2022 is to empower organizations and provide a solid defense against sophisticated scams and fraud without adding undue friction to the customer journey. Behavioral biometrics are a key technology in this area. Behavioral biometrics is an unobtrusive authentication method and can be collected passively while users interact with their device without adding friction to their journey.

We believe fraud monitoring should take place passively and behind the scenes, triggering interventions only when there’s a likelihood of danger. By looking for anomalies in the customer journey and unusual behavior patterns, we can bring together risk factors and assess the possibility that a scam is underway. Our Dynamic Fraud Intervention solution provides a robust and adaptable solution that will keep pace with, and combat, the constantly evolving threat of scams and APP fraud.

At Callsign, we make digital identity simple and secure by seamlessly powering the identification of every web, mobile and physical interaction. In the coming year, we will continue on our quest of securing the digital consumer by providing seamless and secure experiences for all.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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