Money20/20 Las Vegas: Top takeaways from the Sift team
By Sift /
5 Nov 2021
Sift recently had the pleasure of sponsoring and speaking at this year’s Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas, one of the largest and most influential shows in the fintech industry. The event brought in more than 7,500 registrants and 390 vendors from around the world, fueling groundbreaking conversations and inspiring opportunities for collaboration and change. The Sift team came away from the four-day event with a wealth of conversations, connections, partnerships, and insights. Below are a few of our key takeaways from the event.
Key trends and takeaways from Money20/20 Las Vegas
You can’t talk about payments without talking about fraud, as noted by Coinbase during their session at this year’s big fintech reunion—and with payment fraud up 60% YoY in neobanks and 33% in digital wallets, the proof is in the data. Along with a pressing need to scale all operations to meet ballooning demand, fintechs are facing unprecedented risk from digital fraudsters. Recent data from Sift’s global network showed an 850% increase in fintech ATO fraud rates, with cybercriminals turning to automation to execute large-scale rapid-fire attacks, as well as exploiting newer payment methods and fluctuations in traffic.
The rise of the deep web fraudster
With recent crackdowns on dark web activities, fraudsters are increasingly moving to the deep web—a sprawling, unindexed corner of the internet—to communicate and carry out fraudulent activities while maintaining their anonymity. To help businesses understand the implications and dangers of these deep web platforms, Brittany Allen, Trust and Safety Architect at Sift, gave a talk on The Rise of the Deep Web Fraudster. During her keynote, Allen gave a live demonstration of the cloud-based private encrypted messaging app Telegram, examining the proliferation of fraudulent activity and chatter on the platform. Allen also shared tips for how the entire money ecosystem, from retailers to payment gateways, can proactively stop fraudulent transactions and other attacks emerging from the global Fraud Economy by adopting proactive fraud prevention strategies.
“The shift of fraudulent activity from the dark web to the deep web allows fraudsters to maintain some anonymity while greatly increasing their customer base. For entry-level fraudsters or those who are curious about fraud, the deep web is a low-friction gateway to accessing the resources, knowledge, and strategies that experienced fraudsters are more than happy to sell (and even share). The networking between the two groups in secure messages apps like Telegram further strengthens and develops the existing Fraud Economy,” said Allen.
Pandemic-era solutions highlight emerging vulnerabilities
With worldwide disruption came global innovation and digital acceleration, causing businesses to pivot towards customer demand with support for alternative payment methods and digital currencies. This placed fintechs at the center of an unpredictable online landscape, where growth accelerated in some industries and stalled in others, and fraudsters saw opportunities in both.
Speakers at this year’s conference noted that market responses designed to combat many of the limitations and risks of traditional finance (TradFi)—specifically, decentralized finance (DeFi)—are actually at the same risk of data breaches and hacks as regular banking institutions. While DeFi has the potential to revolutionize the way people manage their money, it has yet to adhere to critical KYC (Know Your Customer) and anti-money laundering regulations. Additionally, stablecoins—a core component of DeFi—would offer greater yield for users over collateralized stablecoin loans, making them a prominent target for cybercriminals.
Finally, multiple speakers covered the clear and present risk of offering Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services (with one session tellingly titled “Buy Now Default Later”), which invites losses beyond those caused by true fraud when consumers can’t, or won’t, complete BNPL payments.
Alternative payments have taken center stage
In fact, alternative payments were an incredibly hot topic this year. Conference veterans repeatedly commented on the huge shift in the business demographic from half a decade ago; while “crypto” was an emerging buzzword only a few years back, cryptocurrency exchanges, digital payments, and the many technologies growing around them dominated the trade show floor in 2021. This included a welcome resurgence of discussions around:
- Account2account (A2A) payments (an alternate method to credit cards), fueled by the open banking initiatives happening in several regions throughout the world.
- The true cost of BNPL and its importance to fintech’s acceleration, with the market size projected to grow to roughly $4 trillion by 2030.
- Coinbase’s soon-to-be-launched NFT marketplace and focus on real-time payments (RTP), which is expected to become standard practice for fintechs over the next year
Additionally, attendees and speakers commented on the unmatched diversity of crypto markets and what will be required to serve them safely, securely, and at scale. This included considerations for retail and institutional investors, speculators, and prime brokers, and how to proactively prepare for challenges resulting from the swift adoption of cryptocurrencies in Europe and Asia, which hold fewer regulations and restrictions for digital currencies than the United States and other parts of the world.
Data sharing, deep fakes, and decisioning
Data is a business of trust—and one that’s utterly vital for fintechs seeking stability, growth, accuracy, and security. While merchants can encourage customers to opt-in to providing data via requests and add-on services, consumers need to feel that their data will be handled and used appropriately and accurately, without experiencing significant friction on a site or app they’re interacting with.
This highlights the importance of global data networks when it comes to fighting fraud. And while detailed data can seem impossibly expensive and cumbersome to come by for certain businesses, speakers noted that the network protection effect—offered by fraud prevention solutions like Sift, with a global network of 70 billion events per month—give that data the power to shut down fraud before it happens, and without interrupting a company’s growth efforts.
This same discussion centered on the risk of subpar KYC and 2FA tools, which become more accurate as more data is ingested into a system—but that are often inaccurate due to limited data, leading to increased false positives and lost revenue. Speakers noted the benefit of dynamic decisioning tools to help fintech trust and safety teams reduce customer insults and accept more legitimate orders more quickly.
Unfortunately, for fast-growing fintechs, technological innovation (and the data that drives it) is a two-way street. While some providers clearly recognize the necessity of real-time data analysis and decisioning, others are hesitant to adopt non-traditional fraud tools that require system migration or updated processes. But fraudsters regularly leverage new platforms and services to execute attacks, evolving their methods just as swiftly as the tools designed to stop them. From automated account takeover at scale to credential stuffing and deep fakes, digital financial institutions are at increased risk from the global Fraud Economy, and cannot rely on incomplete or outdated data—let alone solutions—for sustainable success.
How Sift helps fintech fight fraud
To proactively prevent the rising threat of fraud in fintech, Sift’s fintech customers use the Sift Console to automate the user experience, putting more controls in front of higher risk sessions without adding friction to those they trust. During a live demonstration, Jimmy Dunn, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Sift, highlighted the new release of fintech-focused, fraud-fighting features and API enhancements to the Sift Console. This release enables Sift customers to be even more accurate and successful when fighting fraud while decreasing the need to switch between services.
“Sift is the partner of choice for fighting fintech fraud because we protect hundreds of millions of dollars of fintech transactions every day from every kind of fraud, in every fintech vertical, in every corner of the globe,” said Dunn.