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How Visa uses AI to keep payments secure

James Mitchell
12 October 2021 2 minute readShare
How Visa uses AI to keep payments secure

Payments giant Visa’s AI-driven security helped financial institutions prevent more than $354 million in fraud from impacting Australian businesses in the past year.

The protection of Australian businesses is the result of Visa pioneering the use of neural networks modeled on the human brain, to power its AI technology that analyses the risk of transactions in real time to find and stop fraud. The algorithm assesses more than 500 risk attributes in about a millisecond to produce a score of every transaction’s predicted fraud probability.

Visa’s AI-powered security is increasingly critical as payments continue their rapid shift online. This reflects new data released by AusPayNet which shows that overall card fraud remained largely unchanged in 2020 — up by 0.6% despite a boom in online retail spending of 44% — highlighting that sophisticated fraud prevention measures are keeping fraudsters out.

Visa’s head of risk for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Carolina Gallegos, said the company has a global team of around 850 Visa employees dedicated to anticipating and countering new threats as fraudsters find new ways to attack.

“Trust underpins everything we do at Visa, including our approach to innovation. We are investing more heavily than ever in systems resilience, fraud management and cyber security, including tokenisation, AI and blockchain-based solutions to bring even more security to e-commerce and Australian businesses,” Ms Gallegos said. 

One of the top threats to emerge in Australia and globally the past year is enumeration, the criminal practice that involves using automation to test and guess payment credentials such as account numbers, CVV2, and/or expiry dates during online checkout. To counter this, Visa is leveraging its AI-powered technology to spot patterns in data that are otherwise undetectable by humans, and alert affected merchants and financial institutions before fraudulent transactions begin.

“Put simply, commerce is moving online, so fraudsters are focusing their efforts online and Visa’s AI security helps make every single split-second assessment more sophisticated. A lot of the time, breaches can happen months before actual fraud takes place, so we help businesses identify if they have been a victim early on and take action before it occurs,” Ms Gallegos said.

Security top of mind for customers shopping online

New Visa-commissioned independent research, conducted by global strategy consultancy CLEAR in May and surveying 2,045 Australian debit cardholders, found security-related benefits were front of mind for consumers when it comes to online transactions.

When consumers were asked what features they considered important when using a debit card to make payments, security benefits topped the list and were considered even more important for online debit payments than in-store. Almost three in four consumers (73%) considered fraudulent purchase protection a very important card benefit. Ensuring personal data remains confidential and getting fraudulent purchase alerts were equal second leading factors (70% each).

“As e-commerce and in-app purchases become increasing popular, the industry must continue to innovate and invest in technology that protects the trust we’ve established between businesses and their customers,” Ms Gallegos said.

How Visa uses AI to keep payments secure
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James Mitchell

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