Combatting COVID Fraud Risks

Businesses have the power of big data, technology and advanced analytics on their side, and they should look beyond digital transformation to adopt AI at the core of their operational frameworks.
example, as travel restrictions remain in effect throughout the world, CSPs must consider once ordinary instances of roaming as potentially suspicious events. But with roaming fraud tamped down, criminal networks will only shift to other methods, like Wangiri (Japanese for "one ring and drop") ploys to generate funds through socially engineered call-backs to premium rate numbers.

Using analytical techniques such as real-time peer group analysis, watchlist monitoring and anomaly detection, CSPs can be proactive and prepared to quickly lock down risky high termination rate numbers tied to such International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF) schemes.

Make artificial intelligence (AI) the core

Today’s public health crisis is a stark reminder of the fragility of our health and economic business models. It’s not enough to merely navigate the current crisis. We have an obligation to be better equipped to respond to future "black swan” events. Businesses have the power of big data, technology and advanced analytics on their side, and they should look beyond digital transformation to adopt AI at the core of their operational frameworks.

AI can be trained to do the heavy lifting and, once tuned, deliver operational benefits such as optimized alert workload and improved scoring and decisioning effectiveness for better detection rates. AI can also reduce time to market for new offerings and help reallocate manpower from routine operations to more value-added tasks. These improvements help drive down costs, making them well worth the investment.

Operationalizing AI

While AI has the power to reinvent how we do business, many operational teams still perceive it as a black box and struggle with that concern. While it’s true that some models and techniques are inherently more opaque than others, AI can (and should) be engineered with “explainability” to foster trust.

Understanding the logic and reasons behind a risk score leads to greater acceptance of AI, which in turn can help businesses to better handle customer objections and deliver better service. It also deters employees from bypassing risk scoring to achieve a desired outcome for the client. In short, trusting the outcome of the AI model can help enforce operational governance and achieve enterprise excellence.

For AI to be explainable, it’s critical that CSPs are involved in the modelling process and “own” their AI strategy. Failing to do so is akin to sailing a ship without a captain. Business leaders do not need an AI strategy; rather, they need AI to be their strategy.

The telcos of tomorrow

The pandemic has highlighted the paramount role CSPs will continue to play in connecting people and business. However, beyond-the-business as usual operations, most telcos strive to tap into new markets. For many CSPs, mobile wallets are already standard offerings, primarily in emerging economies. In the EU, for example, market changes and new regulations such as PSD2 (Payments Services Directive) are propelling telcos to push into the payments and financial services space. In the US, many technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) companies are maneuvering to acquire a bigger share of the gaming and streaming market.

From a strategic perspective, the pandemic is certainly a setback. But it also presents a tremendous opportunity for the industry and individual providers to leap forward. CSPs with the right blend of capabilities and a willingness to adapt will have a significant advantage.

Expect and prepare for the unexpected

COVID-19 has taught the world some valuable lessons, among them that we must be better prepared to deal with so-called black swans. Although uncommon, unexpected events are prevalent across all industries, and in our fast paced, more-connected-than-ever world, they will tend to occur more frequently and have farther-reaching impacts.

With globalization, and as CSPs continue to expand their service offerings, risks will follow. The CSPs that survive and thrive will be the ones that are adaptable and able to turn risks into opportunities. Importantly, organizations can reduce and better manage the ill effects of unexpected events using the power of analytics. Though techniques like anomaly detection and predictive analytics have existed for many years, today’s commoditized computational power and readily available big data allow anti-fraud technology to soar to its full potential. Advanced analytics can help stop fraud, even before it happens.

While the industry remains uniquely focused on criminal activity through the lens of the pandemic, fraud is an ever-present and growing issue that demands attention. Whatever the future holds, telcos that pivot to treat fraud as a strategic issue and use advanced analytics to augment and refocus their fraud fighting efforts will be best positioned to act quickly against changing threats.


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