Security & Fraud

Why Professional Soccer Cares About Digital Fraud

Globalization Drives Cybercrime Threat

There’s no question that, in today’s digital age, borders are quickly starting to disappear. It’s easier than ever for businesses (and commerce) to digitally connect, but this also presents an even larger opportunity for fraudsters to wreak havoc. In a recent digital discussion, ThreatMetrix joined Karen Webster for an in-depth look on the new world of borderless commerce and what it takes to keep fraudsters at bay in the digital era.

No one is immune from digital fraud. There’s always a fraudster waiting in the wings to spoil the party.

Including professional sports. Ticketing, it turns out, is one of the areas that fraudsters seem to like a lot — fraudsters that want to make a quick buck and ticket brokers (AKA scalpers) who want to make quick and big bucks.

In a recent live digital discussion hosted by Karen Webster, ThreatMetrix Chief Marketing Officer Armen Najarian and Chief Products Officer Alisdair Faulkner were joined by Kristina Wavomba, a corporate partnership account executive for the San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team, to give a firsthand take on what it really means to do business (and facilitate commerce) securely.


The Mobile-First Reality

With more than 3.2 billion internet users, 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions and 2 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s clear to see why both business and commerce are rising above the limits of borders.

The mobile channel in particular has transformed into quite a global force to be reckoned with. But while it has created significant opportunities for so many people around the world, it has also enabled bad guys to become even worse than they already are.

ThreatMetrix’s data estimates that, by the end of this year, 50 percent of all the interactions it protects will be mobile, which accounts for somewhere between 75 million and 80 million transactions on a daily basis.

Mobile-first business is up 160 percent since last year, representing a 5x increase for financial institutions alone.

As the world becomes more digital, borders are essentially disappearing.

Unfortunately, while it’s now easier for consumers to find and do business, fraudsters have begun to see this new digitally powered world as their own oyster.

Though some businesses may feel they have nothing to worry about, the truth is that every business is a digital business — whether they want to believe it or not.

As Najarian explained, every business has been affected and touched by digitization of the economy. It’s not just about how they interact with customers, but other factors, such as supply chain, servicing and supporting customers post-sale, communicating with the markets, etc., are also impacted by the quickly changing digital landscape.

“It’s important to recognize that, in virtually all cases when customers are discovering a new service or product, it’s typically the digital experience that’s the tip of the spear,” Najarian added.

Customers now have an entirely new set of digitally minded expectations that businesses must keep in mind, including cross-channel offerings, cross-device interaction and recognition and the concept of always-on — instant, personalized access and a global footprint.


Redefining The Borderless Business

The San Jose Earthquakes, an American professional soccer team, is a surprisingly good example of a borderless business that’s working to provide a frictionless, yet secure way for its fan base to purchase tickets.

Even the arena of sports is becoming increasingly more digital as fans move away from coming to the box office to buy tickets and towards being able to just download an app and purchase tickets digitally.

Wavomba explained that the team had a desire to offer a protected ticketing platform that wouldn’t take away from the fan experience — no matter where in the world a person is buying tickets from or what device they are using.

“When fans decide to come to an Earthquakes game, it’s really just that simple. They don’t have to worry about any sense of fraud; the only threat they have to worry about is who the team is playing today and how do we win this game,” she added.


The Heart Of Digital Business

In today’s mobile-first and digital-first environment, the authenticity of who the end consumer is has become the amalgamation of their digital footprint, Najarian noted.

The more traditional models of authentication, which typically relied on information, such as name, physical address or Social Security number, for transaction or credit decisions, don’t really scale for this digital era.

ThreatMetrix’s approach is to see a person’s digital identity as the piecing together of a digital footprint and then leveraging those digital identities to make real-time fraud decisions.

“It’s just as much of an importance for a consumer as it is for businesses wanting to have the proper infrastructure to do business globally and digitally,” he explained.

But there are a number of reality checks that businesses must take into account when operating in this increasingly global world.

As Faulkner pointed out, identifying good customers is already a difficult task, but it becomes an even bigger challenge when you take into account that consumers are using different devices and moving around to different locations to transact from anywhere at any time.

“That’s hard enough, but you also have a concerted global footprint of cybercrime and cyberattackers from organized gangs that are able to leverage a couple of key trends that are happening today that weren’t there in the first eCommerce boom,” Faulkner explained.

Due to this, both consumers and businesses have to work off the assumption that online identities are already in the hands of cybercriminals and these identities being channeled through compromised computers and bots.

This presents a longstanding challenge to businesses — keeping fraudsters out, while still delivering the best experience for customers.

However, having the right insight into a customer’s identity — similarly to a barista knowing a customer’s order when they walk in the door of their favorite coffee shop — can enable businesses to deliver that same experience online.

At the end of the day, digitally powered customers expect a site to recognize them and their digital identity so that they have a good and consistent experience, Faulkner noted.

Operating in global markets requires delivering frictionless, secure digital experiences that can be attained through three offerings — fraud prevention, authentication and threat detection.

“If you only look at each one of these three by themselves, they have value, but the greatest value is when you stitch them all together,” Faulkner explained.

This is because a person’s digital identity is the culmination of the device being used at any given point in time, the credentials being used, as well as their behaviors overtime as they interact and change locations and switch between devices.

“If you get those things correctly and they’re all in an integrated system, that’s the best opportunity to provide frictionless experiences,” he added.


Featured PYMNTS Study:

More than 63 percent of merchant service providers (MSPs) want to overhaul their core payment processing systems so they can up their value-added services (VAS) game. It’s tough, though, since many of these systems date back to the pre-digital era. In the January 2020 Optimizing Merchant Services Playbook, PYMNTS unpacks what 200 MSPs say is key to delivering the VAS agenda that is critical to their success.

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