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Financial crime fighter Feedzai has secured a growth investment of $200 million. Product development, partner strategy, and global expansion are three Feedzai priorities that will be accelerated by the new investment.
The Series D round was led by KKR, and featured participation from existing investors Sapphire Ventures and Citi Ventures. The company’s total capital now stands north of $277 million, having most recently raised $50 million in a 2017 Series C round.
“This new investment delivers on our mission to keep commerce safe by further developing our single machine learning cloud platform for all four stages of the customer risk journey: prevention, detection, remediation, and compliance,” Feedzai CEO Nuno Sebastiao wrote on the company blog this week. “Focusing on the entirety of the risk lifecycle,” he added, “allows us to partner with financial services in a radically new way at every step of the journey.”
The funding also gives the risk management platform a valuation “well over $1 billion” the company noted in its funding announcement.
Partnered with some of the largest financial institutions in the world – including four of the five largest banks in North America, Feedzai leverages its risk management platform to monitor activity at companies with more than 800 million customers in 190 countries. The firm’s platform leverages machine learning and AI to help companies defend themselves from financial crimes including money laundering, detecting fraud in less than three milliseconds.
A Finovate alum since 2014, Feedzai unveiled its Feedzai Fairband solution earlier this month. Feedzai Fairband is an AutoML algorithm-based technology that automatically discovers less biased machine learning models while increasing model fairness by as much as 93% on average. Dubbed “the world’s most advanced AI fairness framework,” Feedzai Fairband enables financial institutions to accommodate their customers fairly and without the bias that even the most carefully-designed AI models may still hold.
“Feedzai Fairband is one of the biggest milestones in the financial services industry as it presents a low-cost, no-friction framework to address one of the biggest problems of our era – AI bias,” Feedzai Chief Scientist Dr. Pedro Bizrro said. “By creating the most advanced framework for AI fairness, Feedzai is allowing financial institutions to incorporate a critical piece of technology that addresses a problem under close public scrutiny with proven damaging effects across the globe. Building accurate and fairer models will be less challenging from now on.”
Named to Techround’s roster of the top 50 fintech companies in the U.K. in February, Feedzai highlighted the “skyrocketing” rise in fraud attacks in 2020 in its Financial Crime Report Q1, 2021, released earlier this month.
“2020 was a year of rapid growth in financial crime. Fraudsters tried to take advantage of the convergence between a fast-paced digital environment and a new wave of inexperienced consumers to perpetrate a multitude of attacks that created a significant uptick in fraud,” Jaime Ferreira, Senior Director of Global Data Science at Feedzai said in the report. “Financial institutions need to further invest in technologies to protect their customers while developing educational approaches. Robust technology and informed consumers are a powerful combination when fighting financial crime.”
Feedzai began the year with an announcement that Latin America’s largest investment bank, BTG Pactual, will implement Feedzai’s financial crime management technology.
What are the biggest fraud challenges to emerge during the COVID-19 era? According to a new report from Feedzai, card cloning tops the list of major indicators for fraud in both financial services and e-commerce.
With card cloning, criminals copy stolen credit or debit card information and transfer it to a new card. Also known as “skimming,” card cloning is a big business on the dark web, where fraudsters – “carders” – buy and sell stolen payment card data.
But card cloning is not the only danger highlighted in the report. High speed ordering with bot attacks that move quickly and can last for hours is another fraud threat in financial services, as is what Feedzai refers to as “High risk merchant category code (MCC).” Businesses that earn this designation from their bank are typically those with above average chargebacks, as well as a higher risk of fraud potential.
Within ecommerce, the report found that in addition to card cloning, both account takeover (ATO) and suspicious email are among the top three indicators for fraud. With an ATO attack, the criminal uses bots to access an unsuspecting individual’s bank or e-commerce account. This enables a bad actor to access that account and make fraudulent and unauthorized transactions from it. Suspicious email is a broader category that includes common but effective tactics like phishing, and as well as fake emails and email domains.
“It wasn’t just consumers who met the call to digitally transform,” Feedzai’s Quarterly Financial Crime Report reads. “Fraudsters, ever technologically savvy and opportunistic, made the most of the shift.”
Feedzai’s report on financial crime puts current trends in the context of a society that is embracing digital channels at a rapid pace. It notes significant increases in the dollar amounts and value, as well as the number of ecommerce transactions processed between May and September of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Unfortunately, the report also noted a dramatic increase in network fraud this year. “The realignment of holiday shopping trends was also an early gift for fraudsters,” the report reads.
What can financial institutions do to help fight financial crime?
Monitor Card Behavior: Multiple transactions in a short period of time, unusually high dollar amounts per transaction, and a sizable number of merchant codes within a relatively short period time are all potentially indicative of payment card fraud. Leveraging machine learning and AI-powered algorithms to accurately identify these patterns is an optimal way for businesses to keep up pace with the speed and complexity of this kind of fraud.
Track Suspicious Email Domains: High-risk domains, invalid emails, and unconfirmed email addresses are all potential sources of fraudulent activity. Companies can use both software and the services of security specialists who maintain up-to-date information on domains and email addresses that may be used by fraudsters.
Know Your Customer: Knowing what “normal” looks like is the first step to identifying abnormal behavior. By developing an accurate customer profile that takes into account such factors as a customer’s typical log-in times, devices, and time spent on different platforms, businesses can more readily spot behavior that is exceptional, and take further steps to determine whether or not that fraudulent activity is taking place. Feedzai refers to these as “hypergranular risk profiles.”
“COVID has created a big disruption in the banking, payments, and e-commerce sectors with multiple impacts all over the world,” Feedzai Senior Director of Global Data Science Jaime Ferreira said. “Feedzai is in a good position to add clarity to this debate and help financial institutions to understand these complex shifts and how to better protect their customers.”
Feedzai’s Quarterly Financial Crime Report for Q4 2020 leverages Feedzai’s data from more than four billion global transactions from March 20 through September of this year. The report also features information from consumer research surveys of “nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.”
Above-target growth and a pair of C-suite appointments characterize the first half of 2020 for risk management platform Feedzai. The company announced this morning that it has recorded H1 growth of 44% and negotiated “multiple multi-year enterprise contracts” during the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic and related market uncertainty. This, along with new leadership in the CFO and CMO roles, enabled the company to have what co-founder and CEO Nuno Sebastiao described “one of the best quarters ever” despite the pandemic.
“This simultaneously shows that our technology is mission-critical, and our business is crisis resilient,” Sebastiao continued. “I’m confident that our next phase of growth will benefit from market conditions in which digital transformation will play a larger than ever role, and from a set of strategic decisions we’ve made in the last 9 months.”
SafetyPay, Credorax, and PayU are among the companies that have teamed up with the San Francisco, California-based risk management platform this year. And joining Feedzai’s executive ranks are Amaury Dauge, former Euronext CFO, who will take over as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer, and Varun Kohli, who has been appointed Chief Marketing Officer.
Founded in 2008 and a Finovate alum for six years, Feedzai leverages artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning to analyze 30 million transactions valued at $5 billion every day. The company’s technology is used by 10 of the world’s largest 25 banks, and has been recognized as “Best in Class” by Aite Group.
Financial crime has taken on new significance during the global health crisis. With more individuals working remotely, and more companies accessing new channels and agents in search of financial assistance, there has been a significant rise in the number of ways criminals can take advantage of the uncertainty of the current environment. Feedzai, in its statement, highlighted mule accounts, phishing attacks, and employer fraud, among the top three types of financial crime that have increased during the pandemic.
“Fraudsters thrive on periods of confusion and chaos,” Aite Group Research Director Julie Convoy said, “and this pandemic represents fertile breeding ground.”
This week for Finovate Global, we caught up with Mohammed Aziz, co-founder and CEO of Dapi, a fintech startup that offers a suite of open banking APIs to help connect customer bank accounts, initiate payments, and access data in real-time. Founded in 2019, the company currently operate in six countries in the Middle East and Africa, and is headquartered in both San Francisco, California, and the UAE.
We talked about the opportunity for open banking to fuel innovation in financial services in emerging economies, as well as the overall environment for fintech innovation in the MENA region. We also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on pre-existing trends such as digitization.
Finovate: Dapi is the third company you’ve founded, but your first fintech. What made you want to focus on the opportunities in this industry? What do you bring to fintech from your experience in other areas?
Mohammed Aziz: Dapi was the result of a problem that I personally faced when trying to build “Spendy” a hybrid between a peer to peer payment application and a personal financial management app. We were unable to build out Spendy for most emerging markets due to the lack of bank connectivity which got us super keen to build out the underlying infrastructure that would power the future of fintech in these markets.
Finovate: Tell us about Dapi. What problem does your company solve and who are your primary customers?
Aziz: Dapi’s mission is to provide the building blocks for a thriving fintech ecosystem in emerging markets around the world. Our API serves as the bridge between financial applications and banks, empowering developers to create digital wallets, budget trackers, investment applications and more. Our clients are developers working on fintech applications, businesses hoping to include financial services in their mobile and web offerings, and anyone that wants to include bank functionality within their digital offerings.
Finovate: Your business strategy relies on an embrace of open banking in the MENA region. How strong is the movement toward open banking there?
Aziz: The MENA region is a very exciting space to be operating in right now. Fintech is only beginning to develop here and the market is pretty much untapped, so we are hoping to serve as an influence towards the region embracing open banking and all the opportunities that come with that. I would also like to point out that we are able to activate and build connectivity regardless of open banking being present or not. We like to take the approach that companies like Plaid in the US or Truelayer in the UK did, whereby they were connected to banks despite frameworks and regulation being in place.
Finovate: Aside from open banking, what are some of the other exciting trends in the fintech industry in the Middle East/Abu Dhabi right now?
Aziz: There’s a general trend of growing interest for the kinds of applications that financial technology empowers, from digital wallets and peer to peer applications to investment platforms and digital banks. The market is new and rapidly evolving.
Finovate: We talk about the Middle East and North Africa as a region. But there is a great deal of variation among countries in MENA. How does this impact your ability to market your technology in the area?
Aziz: Beyond market considerations, the regulation surrounding the use of APIs in financial applications varies greatly from country to country. This is a new and mostly unregulated space, but we have had to consider completely separate approaches to integrating our services in the UAE as opposed to KSA, for example. Culture is also another important factor, as it varies between countries and impacts the products that you would want to launch along with the go-to-market approach.
Finovate: How has COVID-19 impacted the fintech industry in the region? Early in the crisis, we heard news from countries like Iran, but not as much since. How are businesses, especially fintech businesses, faring?
Aziz: The COVID-19 pandemic and its push towards social distancing and remote work has actually increased interest in digitization of financial services. For example, there have been a number of announcements within the UAE that the country will be moving towards enabling more online payments and other financial services without the need to physically go to a bank.
Finovate: You participated in the Y Combinator program. What was that experience like? What advice do you have for startups with the opportunity to pursue a similar path with a top-notch accelerator?
Aziz: Y Combinator has been a phenomenal experience for us. It really put us out there on the map and helped expand our network in silicon valley. From our experience, investors and VCs in the US are not usually convinced about investing in early stage MENA startups, but YC really helps establish that credibility.
Finovate: Tell us about your experience of setting up your business in Abu Dhabi.
Aziz: Abu Dhabi is an exciting place to work, since it is a rapidly growing and developing market, as mentioned above. Furthermore, we have received a lot of support from our involvement in ADGM and Hub71, which provided resources for us to establish and grow our operations in these beginning stages.
Finovate: What can we expect from Dapi over the balance of 2020 and beyond?
Aziz: We are very excited to continue growing and expanding into a variety of developing markets, beyond the UAE. At the same time, we have a number of exciting partnerships in our sights for the UAE, which we hope will bring our vision of a strong fintech ecosystem in the MENA region closer to reality.
Here is our look at fintech around the world.
Singapore-based MatchMove launches cross-border remittance platform for businesses.
Clik, a payment aggregator and merchant acquirer based in Cambodia, raises $3.7 million in seed funding.
Leading Asian financial services platform GoBear teams up with UnionBank to launch lending-as-a-service solution in the Philippines; announces new Chief Financial Officer.
Fiservinks partnership with Absa Regional Operations (ARO) to enhance credit card management and processing in nine African countries.
Ecobank Group unveils the finalists for its fintech challenge, now in its third year. Ten African startups from seven different countries made the cut out of an applicant pool of more than 600.
Salaam Gateway looks at the development of Islamic fintech in Kenya.
Central and Eastern Europe
Onfido to streamline digital identity verification for Poland’s Alior Bank.
Russia’s Tinkoff Banklaunches new charitable program, Cashback to Give Back.
Austrian regtech kompany lands $7.14 million in funding.
Middle East and Northern Africa
Salt Edgepartners with Jordan Ahli Bank Cyprus, making it one of the first banking groups in Cyprus to achieve PSD2 compliance.
Israeli fintech Approve.com raises $5 million in seed funding for its technology that automates the procurement process.
Infosys Finacle to deploy its Liquidity Management platform with National Bank of Bahrain.
Central and Southern Asia
Uzbekistan’s People’s Bank partners with Finastra to automate its risk management business.
TerraPay collaborates with Bank Alfalah to enable instant money transfers to Pakistan.
Indian B2B fintech Signzy announces plans to hire “close to 70” employees over the next six moths in response to increased demand.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Feedzaiexpands partnership with PayU, enabling the company to enhance its fraud prevention capabilities in Latin America and the EMEA region.
TechCrunch profiles Mozper, a digital banking service based in Latin America that caters to parents and Gen Z kids.
MercadoLibre announces plans to launch branded credit cards in Brazil and Chile “in the near future.”
Of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America right now, how many have demonstrated their technology live on the Finovate stage?
The answer, courtesy of Deloitte’s just-released 2019 Technology Fast 500 ranking, is a full, baker’s dozen of thirteen innovative firms that have introduced their solutions to Finovate audiences. Update: 11/13: Make that 14 companies!
“This year marks the 25th anniversary of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, so we are especially pleased to announce and congratulate the 2019 winners,” Deloitte Vice Chairman Sandra Shirai said. “Once again, we saw innovation across the board, with software companies continuing their dominance of the top ten. It’s always inspiring to see how the Fast 500 companies are transforming business and the world we live and work in.”
Making the top 20 of Finovate alums making the cut was Unison, which made its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring in 2017, winning Best of Show. Unison’s HomeBuyer and HomeOwner solutions help make homes more affordable and home equity easier and less expensive to access.
Also notable on Deloitte’s list is the appearance of two of our newest alums – SheerID and EVERFI – which demonstrated their solutions earlier this year at FinovateSpring.
Check out all the Finovate alums that made the list below. We’ve included their Technology Fast 500 rank, three-year revenue growth rate, headquarters location, and a link to the company’s most recent Finovate demo video.
A new partnership between North American Bancard (NAB) and Feedzai will put machine learning to work to help merchants better manage risk and fight fraud. The two companies have collaborated to build a set of customized fraud prevention tools that leverage real-time data insights to identify suspicious patterns and transaction anomalies that often are the tell-tale signs of criminal activity online.
Saurabh Bajaj, Feedzai Head of Product, emphasized the importance of real-time technology in the fight against emergent fraud threats. He pointed out that while consumers and merchants alike have benefitted from the rise of digital technologies in e-commerce, these gains have come at a cost.
“Digital transformation across industries has been great for consumers, but also for increasingly sophisticated fraudsters looking for new ways to commit fraud,” Bajaj said. “That’s why we need a real-time AI engine that can secure transactions, using intelligence across all business channels.”
NAB Chief Risk Officer Jay Nadarajah highlighted the importance of maintaining a quality customer experience while improving the security of that experience. “Facilitating safe, secure, and fast transactions while eliminating friction in the underwriting and risk processes through technological advancements is at the core of what we’re trying to offer to merchants,” Nadarajah said. “These technological advancements drive efficiencies and speed in identifying fraudulent activity.”
Founded in 1992, North American Bancard is a payments technology company with more than 350,000 business customers in the U.S. and Canada. The Troy, Michigan-based firm offers payment processing and acceptance solutions including free EMV and NFC hardware, no long-term contracts, and acceptance of most major credit cards and PayPal at rates starting at 0.29%.
Feedzai demonstrated its Fraud Prevention platform at FinovateEurope 2014. Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with Raiffeisen Bank International to use advanced machine learning to help the European bank fight fraud. In March, Aite Group named Feedzai Best in Class in the vendor market for fraud and anti-money laundering solutions.
With more than $76 million in funding, Feedzai includes Data Collective (DCVC), Sapphire Ventures, Citi Ventures, and Oak HC/FT among its investors. Nuno Sebastiao is CEO of the company, which is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and was founded in 2011.
Anti-fraud solution provider Feedzai has collaborated with DataRobot to enable FIs, merchants, and processors to add DataRobot’s machine learning models to the Feedzai platform. The integration, made possible via the OpenML platform Feedzai announced last year, will enable FIs to automate the creation of advanced machine learning models for fraud detection and AML, providing a higher level of defense against financial crime.
“This integration with DataRobot enables us to further open the Feedzai platform to powerful machine learning algorithms into our platform to offer even more of the world’s advanced AI tools to our customers,” Feedzai SVP of Product Saurabh Bajaj said. “This is how we are democratizing AI for our customers.”
The integration also gives data scientists the ability to conduct data cleaning and analysis, feature engineering, and model training and testing, all within the Feedzai platform. Data scientists can also import external models to the platform, as well as take advantage of Feedzai’s other tools, including its automated rules engine, advanced link analysis, Risk Ledger, and Genome to enhance fraud detection further.
“Our partnership with Feedzai gives banks and other financial institutions the flexibility to use the machine learning technology and tools that best fit their needs,” SVP of Business Development for DataRobot Seann Gardiner said. “The combination of Feedzai’s impressive threat detection technology and our world-class automated machine learning capabilities create a best-of-breed solution to fight fraud with unprecedented accuracy.”
With $5 billion in transactions scored daily, Feedzai protects 10 of the largest 25 global banks from fraud. Last month, the company announced a strategic partnership with Citi, which will feature the integration of Feedzai’s anti-fraud technology with Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions. Feedzai also unveiled its latest financial crime prevention solution, Risk Ledger, in December. Risk Ledger leverages the millions of transactions processed via its platform to provide a more comprehensive anti-fraud solution.
Founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco, California, Feedzai demonstrated its fraud prevention technology at FinovateEurope 2014. The company has raised $76.1 million in funding, and includes Data Collective DCVC, Sapphire Ventures, Citi Ventures, and Oak HC/FT among its investors.