NatWest, Vocalink Analytics Go After Invoice Fraud


U.K. bank NatWest is teaming up with payments company Vocalink Analytics to tackle B2B invoice fraud, the firms announced in a Tuesday (Apr. 3) press release. The two have reportedly developed, tested and launched a Corporate Fraud Insights solution that integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify potential fraud.

The tool, which only flags suspicious payments if they are non-real time, aims to prevent invoice redirection fraud. Invoice redirection fraud involves a fraudster convincing an employee to pay an invoice using a fraudulent account, rather than the true account of a supplier.

“We apply sophisticated analytical techniques to vast amounts of payments data to build models which identify suspicious activity,” said Vocalink Analytics executive vice president Gary Kearns in a statement. “Every time a business pays an invoice, a behavioral signature is left behind. By analyzing these signatures, and the signatures of historical frauds, we are able to identify and flag suspected incidents of fraud.”

“Detecting invoice redirection fraud is akin to finding a needle in a haystack, as there are tens of millions of legitimate non-real time payments every day,” added NatWest’s head of fraud for commercial and private banking, Lee Fitzgerald. “While the volume of fraud is relatively low, the values are typically large amounts, so the business of this type of fraud can be crippling.”

The companies did not say whether they will expand their joint solution to include identifying fraud in real-time transactions.

According to 2016 data from Tungsten Network, more than $240 million is lost to fraud in the U.K.’s financial services industry alone, and one-fifth of businesses surveyed suspect invoice fraud was the culprit. This makes it the vertical most impacted by invoice fraud, analysts said, with 60 percent of firms saying they had received a fake invoice in the last year — more than the 47 percent average seen across all industries.