'Banks Must Invest in Big Data to Curb Electronic Fraud'


Emma Okonji

Worried about the huge financial losses to electronic fraud in the Nigerian financial market space, which stood at N2.1 billion as at 2016, experts at the eight annual payment system and fraud conference, have called on Nigerian banks to invest in big data analytics in order to address the problem.

The conference, with the theme: “Leveraging Big Data Analytics in Combating Payment Fraud,” was organised by Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN) in Lagos on Tuesday.

The forum, which projected that the financial losses to electronic fraud would hit N6 trillion by 2021, if not nipped in the bud, advised that the best way out of the challenge was for banks to invest in technology solution like the big data analytics, which offers realtime detection of electronic fraud, before it occurs.

The Country Managing Director, Accenture Nigeria, Mr. Niyi Yusuf, who spoke at the forum, said about N237billion would be at risk, if adequate measures were not taken to address electronic fraud in the country, since the rate of financial fraud is on the increase, with 20 per cent of financial fraud, carried out across counters, while 80 per cent fraud is carried out among various electronic channels provided by the banks for customers’ convenience.

Yusuf said although the banks and the financial regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have put certain measures in place to address the issue, such as the introduction of separation of duties, and the introduction of Bank Verification Number (BVN), coupled with the introduction of Cybercrime Law that was passed by the federal government in 2015, he however said that such measures were not enough, given the advanced technology methods, with which the fraudsters defraud the banks and their customers.

He joined other speakers at the forum to advise the banks to invest in the technology of big data analytics, which would allow the banks to monitor the behavioral pattern of genuine bank account owners, in order to checkmate fraud before it occurs.

Aside investing in the technology of big data analytics, Yusuf also urged the banks to continually upgrade the skills set of their staff, in line with global technology trend.

Chairman, CeBIH, Mr. Dele Adeyinka, said Nigeria currently has over 30 million BVN card holders, recording over 4.6 trillion transactions with their Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, and about 40 trillion transactions annually, using other channels of transactions, pointing out that such transactions needed to be protected from being hacked by fraudsters.

Big Data Analyst, Cloud Computing Expert and IT Consultant to Dell-EMC, Mr. Ositadimma Ugwu, said the fraudsters have become sophisticated in their approach, and could come from different electronic channels to perpetrate their acts, insisting that big data analytics is the sure way to address the high level financial fraud in the Nigerian financial space.

On his part, the Chief Executive of Inlaks Computers, Mr. Femi Adeoti, explained that bank customers were fast moving from physical space to virtual space, while carrying out several online financial transactions, which he said must be protected with robust technology solution like the big data analytics.

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who was represented by a Deputy Inspector General, said the Police is out to arrest and prosecute electronic fraudsters, and warned those involved in such act to desist or risk being arrested and prosecuted according to law.

Experts at the forum agreed that in order to mitigate electronic fraud and its resultant damage on an organisation’s image and consumer confidence, regulators and stakeholders in the industry must formulate and brace up to new and proactive approach of fighting fraud, using big data analytics capabilities.