Visa’s Chief Risk Officer Highlights AI as Key Player in the Battle Against Payments Fraud

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Paul Fabara, the Chief Risk Officer at Visa, discussed the ongoing battle against payments fraud and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in combating this growing threat. Fabara emphasized that the rapid shift to online channels during the pandemic and beyond had transformed analog businesses into digital entities overnight. This shift also provided new opportunities for fraudsters to refine their tactics and exploit vulnerabilities in the digital payment ecosystem.

Fabara acknowledged that this evolving landscape had given rise to a wave of new technologies, with generative AI emerging as a potential game-changer in transaction protection. He noted that AI had reached a level of sophistication where it could detect when a URL was compromised, flagging potential threats to consumers. However, Fabara also pointed out that fraudsters had access to the same technology, setting the stage for an AI-driven battle between those seeking to protect transactions and those seeking to compromise them.

He stated, «In many ways, this is going to become a war of AI, as to who has the strongest data sets to be able to feed those models and ultimately be able to create better protection for consumers.»

While advanced technologies are critical in the fight against fraud, Fabara highlighted the importance of a «consumer beware» approach. Consumers, he emphasized, should practice traditional data protection measures, such as verifying the legitimacy of email addresses and websites before transacting. Trust remains a fundamental aspect of secure online transactions.

Visa and other service providers have adopted a «zero trust» engineering philosophy to safeguard their products and services from external threats and malicious actors. This approach focuses on implementing robust data management and data movement protocols. For instance, in Europe, the adoption of protocols like 3DS has improved security for cross-border transactions, offering end-to-end protection for payments.

Fabara recognized that this journey toward enhanced security might introduce some friction in the user experience. However, he emphasized that this friction could serve as a positive signal, indicating that commerce partners are committed to protecting consumers. Strengthened authentication methods and verification processes play a pivotal role in building trust.

As Fabara concluded, «It’s a journey that’s going to take a while, and which starts with small steps.» The collaborative effort between service providers and consumers, coupled with advanced technologies and vigilance, holds the key to preventing fraud and ensuring the security of digital transactions in the future.

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