Retailers exposed to ever-rising fraud this Christmas, as sales shift further online and to mobile

Boxing Day is almost here, historically one of the biggest sales events in the retail calendar. This year however, powered by the rise of digital competition and a further decline in footfall, retailers slashed their prices weeks ago, with this trend likely to continue into next year. For the first time, over half – 53 per cent – of shoppers are expected to purchase through online channels during the festive season.

Retailers have been forced to adapt to an unprecedented change in consumer habits as people favour the convenience of buying goods online and via their smartphones. Mobile transactions have increased by eight per cent to make up nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of total Christmas sales.

As online sales increase, so does the opportunity for online fraud. In the past year, over 2.6 million UK accounts were defrauded and 76 per cent of this total related to remote purchases. With malicious and fraudulent activity escalating, Jason Tooley, chief revenue officer at authentication platform Veridium recommends retailers integrate multiple levels of authentication to ensure the most comprehensive security standards for customers shopping online.

Jason comments: “Without a doubt, this latest influx of Christmas sales will be a bonus for struggling UK retailers. However, with the sharp increase in online transactions, half of which are now on mobile, digital security for customers must become a top business priority. If customers do not feel safe purchasing online, retailers will face abandoned baskets and customer churn. Businesses must embrace changing consumer habits and respond to the needs of the digitally savvy, mobile-first customer, with security and convenience being the most coveted assets.”

Digital retailers have now been granted an extension until March 2021 to implement Strong Customer Authentication. This regulation requires two or more factor authentication steps on purchases over £28.

According to Jason: “The delay in Strong Customer Authentication has put consumer security at risk. In order to ensure retailers know who their customers are who they say they are, authentication techniques must move away from ‘what you know,’ such as easily forgotten or easily compromised passwords. Instead retailers will see most value in focusing on ‘who you are,’ using mobile device possession and fingerprint or facial recognition techniques which create a combination of explicit and implicit authentication. Incorporating implicit intelligence, such as cutting-edge behavioural biometrics which uses artificial intelligence to identify learned behaviour and anomalies will be the final frontier in reducing fraud and delivering the highest level of security – harmonised with a great consumer experience.”

He adds: “Incorporating biometrics within the customer authentication process must take precedence for companies as they aim to provide an exceptional user experience for their customers. A multi factor security strategy on the customer’s digital device is the first step in the battle against fraud and identity theft and developing customer confidence. Businesses must first understand the digital expectations of the customer, which invariably include mobile and biometric usage, and then intelligently apply different factors of authentication based on the customer scenario. This strategic approach to including biometric technology into the customer verification process has been identified as “passwordless,” and increases security without the associated costs.”