The real impact of online fraud in the financial sector

Today the impact of online fraud in the financial sector is undeniable. The first thing that comes to mind when we read a headline about this is the direct financial loss, with good reason. Every year online fraud and digital identity theft result in losses in the millions for the financial sector, not to mention e-commerce or telecommunications.

And this doesn’t just happen in the U.S., where online payments are more embedded in daily life. Let’s take the example of a European market; according to data from July 2016 in Great Britain, one out of ten people fell victim to online theft or crime. In other words, you are twenty times more likely to be robbed while you are in front of your computer than walking down the street.

Also, the increase in the use of mobile phones for financial transactions and online purchases has not gone unnoticed. At the last Clab 2016, held in Peru in September, the most recent data regarding mobile fraud was reported: it has increased 170% from the previous year and now represents 62% of all online fraud.

Of this, identity theft represents 95% of attacks, and it is one of the most common cybercrimes along with phishing and hacking.

But, what does this mean for the financial sector? How does online fraud impact digital banking and FinTech?

Loss of reputation

Security problems directly affect the company’s reputation, and this factor is especially critical for FinTech, which must compete with the long-established reputations of traditional banks. Loss of reputation directly affects obtaining new clients as well as relationships with partners and investors.

Loss of client trust

As in the previous case, security is critical for clients of a financial institution. Online fraud is perceived as a breach in the security of personal and financial information, which causes a loss of clients, who are looking for institutions that can offer them more guarantees. Even in the event that the client has not been completely lost, cross sales with these accounts may be affected, reducing activity with the institution to the minimum required.

But the problem does not stop here: even when the fraud arises from an online payment to a third party, studies indicate that a high percentage of the clients consider the financial institution to be responsible.

Security audits

Security audits are required for all companies that store data classified under LOPD [Organic Law on Personal Data] with a medium or high level of security. For financial institutions, data is considered to require a high level of security, so an audit must be carried out every two years.

And although failure to carry out an audit does not involve a penalty in and of itself, unauthorized loss, alteration, access, or handling of personal data does.

Loss of income

All of the foregoing, directly or indirectly, lead to loss of income, somehow affecting the institution’s profit or loss. For large financial institutions, this loss may be more or less absorbed, but in the case of FinTech, the loss may determine the future of the company.

In summary, online fraud has an impact on the financial sector far beyond immediate loss of income, since the effects of lower income due to loss of reputation and trust manifest themselves in the short, medium, and long term starting from when the fraud incident occurs.


Sources: ICAR, Clab 2016, Action Fraud UK, Forbes.