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Industry roundup: 26 August

UK bank account fraud soars in the first half of 2021

Research from Experian has revealed that bank account fraud is now tracking at its highest level for more than three years. Drawing on the latest data from the National Hunter Fraud Prevention Service, the analysis uncovered an alarming surge in fraudulent activity targeting British businesses and consumers.

The fraud rate for current accounts rose by 13% in Q2 compared to the previous quarter and was up 24% when compared to the same period in 2020. Confirmed fraudulent openings for savings accounts rose by 170% - the fraud rate now being three times the rate in the previous quarter and five times when compared to the same quarter last year. Loan fraud rates rose also by 40% in Q2, its highest reported level in the last three years, and up 63% on the same period last year. First-party fraud related to loans - where an individual gives false information or misrepresents their identity to access a product on more favourable terms - also rose by 18%.

"Fraudsters assume opening a savings or current account is a relatively straight-forward process and then use them to receive and quickly distribute illegally-obtained funds, as well as giving them access to other financial services offered by the bank or building society they’ve selected," said Eduardo Castro, head of Identity and Fraud at Experian UK&I. "Both consumers and businesses need to be made aware of the threat that scams pose. Our analysis serves as a warning that fraud prevention should be a priority for all organisations."

The rise in rates can also be attributed to financial services’ fraud teams using a sophisticated combination of new technologies such as machine learning to successfully identify and prevent fraud.


Thunes enables real-time payments to Pakistan 

Thunes, a Singapore-based fintech company, has announced a partnership with Bank Alfalah to enable real-time cross-border payments to Pakistan. The partnership will help Thunes’ customers to enable payments not just to Bank Alfalah’s clients, but to all of the 57 million of Pakistan’s banked population. It will also work in near-real time, thanks to Thunes’ digital treasury systems. 

"Historically, cross-border money transfers to Pakistan have been complicated by the lack of transparency, long waiting times, and burdened with hidden fees," said Andrew Stewart, global head of Networks at Thunes. "We are glad to create infrastructure that will benefit families, remote workers and communities across the nation who depend on money sent from overseas for their livelihoods."

"Bank Alfalah is collaborating with Thunes to provide the most automated and seamless cross-border payments experience to Pakistanis," added Saad Ur Rahman Khan, group head - Corporate, Investment Banking and International Business at Bank Alfalah. "This solution reinforces our commitment to provide smarter and faster ways of sending remittances to Pakistan using digital innovation. This exciting new partnership with Thunes helps Bank Alfalah to become a game-changer by enabling cross-border payments to be deposited to all bank account holders in Pakistan in real-time." 

With the addition of Pakistan, Thunes’ global network will now grow to 113 countries where it can facilitate inbound consumer or business payments.


ASIC outlines its Corporate Plan 2021-25

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has published its Corporate Plan 2021-25, which outlines its priorities over the next four years to achieve a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians.

ASIC’s four external strategic priorities are:

  1. Promoting economic recovery - including through better and more efficient regulation, facilitating innovation, and targeting regulatory and enforcement action to areas of greatest harm.
  2. Reducing the risk of harm to consumers exposed to poor product governance and design, and increased investment scam activity in a low-yield environment.
  3. Supporting enhanced cyber resilience and cyber security among ASIC’s regulated population, in line with the whole-of-government commitment to mitigating cyber security risks.
  4. Driving industry readiness and compliance with standards set by law reform initiatives (including the Financial Accountability Regime, reforms in superannuation and insurance, breach reporting, and the design and distribution obligations).

The plan highlights both external and internal projects and commitments to ensure ASIC delivers on its statutory objectives.

"ASIC has an important role to play in promoting economic recovery and confidence in the financial system, especially in the face of the ongoing pandemic," said Joe Longo, chair of ASIC. "We will continue to take opportunities to support businesses through more efficient regulation. At the same time, we will continue to be vigilant in protecting consumers and investors from harm. ASIC will make use of the full range of regulatory tools available to enhance trust in the financial system, and we will exercise our powers consistently, transparently and proportionately."


Bank of America sets company record for patents granted

Bank of America has announced it has recorded the most patents granted in the first half of any year in the company’s history. The U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) granted the bank 227 patents during the first half of 2021, a 23% increase over last year, covering a range of solutions for clients including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), information security, data analytics, mobile banking and payments.

The bank also applied for 403 patents, despite 85% of its workforce continuing to work from home during the pandemic. Bank of America ranks 108th on the IPO Top 300 list of US granted patents, its highest ranking ever.

"We’re in a period of unprecedented change, and as any great company knows, delivering for customers and clients requires a strong focus on innovation," said Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America. "The culture we’ve created at Bank of America is immensely creative and forward-looking, driving solutions that make our clients’ financial lives better."

One of the company’s inventors is Manu Kurian, a senior vice president within global banking. Kurian ranks in the top 300 patent holders in the world, filing more than 360 patents since 2014, with more than 220 of those having been granted. Manu recently filed patent applications for technology to enable authentication and data access capabilities for the bank.

"My primary responsibilities are on mobile data," Kurian explained. "The bank really values the way we handle our data. And so part of that is also being able to move that data efficiently between our different systems so that we have that opportunity to serve our clients."

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