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What do EMV, payments fraud and the Top 40 have in common?

Pause for thought…….quiz time. Can you remember who topped the UK charts on the 14th February 2006? Now, can you also remember what was the main business driver behind the UK’s move to the EMV standard of “chip and pin,” which also coincidentally was the same official launch date (14th February 2006)? Well let me put you out of your misery. It was Meck featuring Leo Sayer with a sound track titled “Thunder in My Heart Again”……knocked off by Madonna’s “Sorry” a few weeks later.   As for the fraud modus operandi being targeted by the EMV initiative? Well, that was counterfeit and lost and stolen card fraud. For the new age innovationists or payment skeptics, depending upon which camp you were in, chip and pin was also the stealth way to lay down the foundations for contactless payments. 

What about the connection with song title choices like “Thunder in My heart Again” and “Sorry” and fraud?  Have you taken the opportunity to look closely into the detail of what types of UK card fraud now appear to be back on the rise? Yes, we all know about the trendy cross border and ‘card-not-present’ (or what my Law Enforcement friend correctly reminds me is actually ‘customer not present’ fraud – think about that one for a moment) that everyone likes to talk about.   But the rumblings of thunder that have my heart pumping centre around counterfeit fraud, which is up 16 percent, and lost and stolen fraud, which is up 10 percent. Add into the mix the 42 percent increase in identity fraud and it starts to paint an interesting picture of where plastic card fraud could actually be heading.

Those of us monitoring payments fraud know criminals like to diversify and I don’t want to sound alarmist. The business case for EMV originally reported that if we did nothing, extrapolated losses would have been £843M. In contrast they are tracking a mere £388M today.  However, I don’t see it being too long before the politicians and regulators start to ask the hard questions of the industry. I think it might be time to start planning the next generation bigger bomb - the fraud prevention arms race is far from over. Do I hear the sound of a new top 40 hit in the making? “The Fraud Prevention Arms Race is Far from Over” could be a chart topper.  Time for a short commercial break as I reach for the Madonna track – sorry!!! Tune in again listeners (readers); I am sure there is more to come on this story. 


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