TechCrunch reporter Ingrid Lunden covered the news of our $100 million funding round led by Apax Digital in an exclusive last week.
“As an increasing number of daily and essential services move to digital platforms — a trend that’s had a massive fillip in the last few months — having efficient but effective ways to verify that people are who they say they are online is becoming ever more important,” Lunden writes. “Now, a startup called Payfone, which has built a B2B2C platform to identify and verify people using data (but no personal data) gleaned from your mobile phone, has raised $100 million to expand its business.”
Lunden also notes that the market for authentication and verification services is projected to grow to $12.8 billion by 2024, according to MarketsandMarkets. She goes on to explain that while “there seems to be an almost infinite amount of variations, approaches and companies offering services to carry out the work… there’s also a push to develop more seamless and user-friendly, and essentially invisible, approaches, and that’s where Payfone sits.”
Lunden also highlights that Payfone’s commitment to and focus on protecting users and their data privacy has been a differentiator and has helped it stand out to investors.
Read the full article at TechCrunch
Investment Will Accelerate Privacy-First Customer Identity Platform with Strategic Acquisitions
New York NY, June 18, 2020 – Payfone announced it has raised $100 million to acquire strategic assets, further strengthen its machine learning capabilities, and build a cross-industry consortium to secure digital transactions and experiences. The investment was led by funds advised by Apax Digital, the growth equity team of Apax Partners.
Payfone is setting a new standard for digital identity verification and authentication. Its customer identity platform enables the world’s largest financial institutions, healthcare organizations and technology companies to bring speed and security to their onboarding, digital servicing and call center processes.
Payfone’s authentication solutions, including its unique Trust Score™ tool, are built on ten years of proprietary phone intelligence that enable Payfone to anonymously measure a phone number’s reputation and risk with real-time processing of behavioral signals. Payfone’s platform instantly detects burner phones, spoofed calls, real-time SIM swap fraud, and synthetic identities, while removing friction from legitimate transactions. Payfone also provides call verification solutions that run passively in the background of a phone call, allowing faster issue resolution.
Rodger Desai, CEO of Payfone, said, “The mobile phone is rapidly becoming the secure passport for navigating our digital lives. With one in three US consumers already authenticated by Payfone, this investment accelerates our ability to set the standard for the authentication process. As we build out a cross-industry consortium, more enterprises will be able to access Payfone’s real-time fraud and risk signals to prevent account takeovers while passing more transactions.”
Daniel O’Keefe, Managing Partner of Apax Digital said, “Identity is the key enabling technology for the next generation of digital businesses. Payfone’s Trust Score™ is core to the real-time decisioning that enterprises need in order to drive revenue while thwarting fraud and protecting privacy.”
Zach Fuchs, Principal of Apax Digital added, “Payfone’s technology enables frictionless customer experience, while curbing the mounting operating expense caused by manual review.” Concurrent with the investment, Mr. O’Keefe and Mr. Fuchs will join Payfone’s board of directors.
Joining the investment round are new investors Sandbox Insurtech Ventures and Ralph de la Vega, the former Vice Chairman of AT&T. Existing investors MassMutual Ventures, Synchrony, Blue Venture Fund, Wellington Management LLP, and former CEO of LexisNexis Andrew Prozes also participated.
For more information about Payfone’s suite of identity verification and authentication solutions, visit payfone.com.
Payfone is a rapidly growing software and data analytics company based in New York. Payfone’s customer identity platform secures the digital experiences of the banking, insurance, telecommunication, retail, and healthcare industries. Its patented Trust Score™ enables enterprises to pass more digital transactions while thwarting fraud attacks. For the latest updates follow us at https://www.linkedin.com/company/payfone.
About Apax Digital
The Apax Digital Fund specializes in growth equity and buyout investments in high-growth enterprise software, consumer internet, and technology-enabled services companies worldwide. The Apax Digital team leverages Apax Partners’ deep tech investing expertise, global platform, and specialized operating experts, to enable technology companies and their management teams to accelerate the achievement of their full potential. Over its more than 40-year history, Apax Partners has raised and advised funds with aggregate commitments of over $50 billion. These funds provide long-term equity financing to build and strengthen world-class companies. For more information see: www.apax.com
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Digital Identity Technology Company Achieves Dramatic Growth with Innovative Offerings
New York, April 9, 2020 – Payfone, a leader in identity verification and authentication, announced today that the Financial Times has named the company in the top 500 of The Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2020. This is the first time FT is publishing this list for The Americas, which is focused on companies that offer impressive innovation and growth in the region.
“The inaugural FT Americas ranking comes at a perilous and uncertain time for many companies, as the coronavirus severely curtails economies, workforces and ultimately growth,” said Maxine Kelly, Commissioning Editor, Special Reports at Financial Times. “Yet the ranking also highlights 500 businesses across the continent for whom innovation and creativity have paid off — attributes that will underpin resilience and enable many of them to thrive once the worst effects of the pandemic are behind them.”
Payfone, which helps its enterprise clients to secure and streamline their customer journeys through Phone Intelligence-based identity verification, ranked #4 among companies in its category and #127 overall on the list of 500 companies. The global company, which experienced 596-percent growth from 2015 to 2018, attributes its rapid growth rate to its unique technology and patents, which enable companies to solve a number of challenges across mobile, web, and call center channels. Two examples that are particularly relevant today are the company’s call center ANI match technology, which significantly reduces call wait times, and its telehealth optimization solution, which helps telemedicine companies to accelerate sign-ups and logins for new and returning healthcare consumers while improving their privacy and security.
Although the award focuses on the Americas, Payfone’s international solutions, such as its anti-SIM swap fraud and PSD2 SCA technologies, which are available in the United Kingdom and other European countries, were a major factor in driving its global growth.
“It is an honor to be recognized for our growth and innovation in the Financial Times’ inaugural list for the Americas,” said Rodger Desai, CEO of Payfone. “As digital and phone transactions surge, the need for fast and secure identity verification has become even more vital. We are committed to helping companies prioritize and accelerate their plans to optimize their online and call center experiences to offer their customers the best possible service, even in challenging times.”
The Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2020 is a joint project by the Financial Times and Statista. The results were achieved by conducting months of research, public calls, intensive database research and directly contacting tens of thousands of companies. The final list recognizes the Top 500 companies in the Americas that have achieved the highest compound annual growth in revenues between 2015 and 2018.
Payfone’s award-winning Phone Intelligence technology replaces traditional identity verification processes such as easy-to-forget passwords, cumbersome security questions, and clumsy SMS OTPs with a solution that is both more secure and easier for end-users. Through Phone Intelligence and its patented Trust Score™, Payfone is able to verify consumers’ identities in an instant, invisible, and inclusive way across mobile, web, and call center interactions. Payfone serves the majority of US financial institutions, and leading healthcare, insurance, technology and retail companies. Learn more at payfone.com and linkedin.com/company/payfone.
ANI trolling (also known as ANI trawling) is an emerging fraud vector that involves fraudsters running thousands of spoofed phone numbers through a business’s IVR (interactive voice response) system in order to identify which numbers belong to customers of that business. Once the hackers have identified which numbers belong to customers, they launch targeted SMS phishing or smishing attacks on the individuals who own those numbers.
How ANI trolling/ANI trawling works:
When a consumer dials into a call center, it’s common for a call center to try and recognize/match the ANI (automatic number identification) of the caller. If the ANI is recognized, indicating that the number is on file as belonging to a customer, the caller can be given a “green path/fast lane”. If not recognized, the caller is taken down another, more generic path (typically security questions).
Armed with the knowledge about how this works, fraudsters will run thousands of numbers through a given IVR. In the process of doing that, they can identify which numbers belong to customers (based on the path that each number is routed through). When they’ve identified the numbers that belong to customers, they can then take those numbers and buy personal data (name, address, SSN, DOB, etc.) on the black market for them in order to run targeted smishing attacks.
How Payfone helps protect IVRs against ANI trolling/ANI trawling:
Instead of using ANI matching as a decision point, call centers can use Payfone’s ANI match + call authentication to detect whether a call is being spoofed. Then they can set up the decision path such that spoofed calls always go down the generic path, regardless of whether the ANI is matched or not. That way, fraudsters can’t identify which numbers belong to customers/account holders, and therefore cannot carry out SMS phishing attacks on those individuals.
By now, you might already know that SIM swap fraud is a major problem that can’t be ignored. It’s on most fraud executives’ radars, not to mention in the news nearly every other week. According to the Wall Street Journal, investigators say they know of more than 3,000 SIM-jacking victims, accounting for $70 million in losses nationwide (the real numbers are likely much higher considering that many cases go unreported).
Congress is also getting involved to battle this epidemic. Earlier this month, Senator Ron Wyden published a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai calling on him to take action to protect consumers against number porting (a.k.a. SIM swap) scams. In Canada, the CRTC also issued a similar letter to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association echoing these concerns. On top of all this, Princeton just released a study finding that top U.S. mobile carriers were vulnerable to SIM swapping tactics.
Now you know that SIM swap fraud is a serious threat to you, your company, and your customers.
A different way of looking at SIM swap fraud
The focus of the Princeton study, Senator Wyden’s letter, and really most of what has been written on the internet about SIM swap fraud has been the role that mobile carriers play in attackers carrying out fraud. As evidenced in these writeups, the step where hackers dupe customer service agents into swapping their SIMs is vital to the attack being successful. But it’s also very difficult to prevent because it involves humans, and specifically customer service agents, who are trained to be as helpful as possible. But upon further inspection, this step is not where the actual damage is done.
In most cases, the actual damage – theft of funds, hijacking of a social media account, or theft of cryptocurrency – occurs after the fraudster actually goes to log into the victim’s accounts using the phone number he has just taken over. So technically, just taking over your phone number is not enough. In order to really inflict damage, a fraudster also needs to log into your accounts.
An opportunity to stop SIM swap fraud in its tracks
This is where Payfone’s patented Phone Intelligence comes into play. When the fraudster goes to log into the victim’s account, the business (whether it be a bank, crypto platform, social media platform, or other kind of enterprise) can use Phone Intelligence to detect that a SIM swap has taken place and block the fraudster from taking nefarious actions.
Consider this scenario involving a cryptocurrency exchange:
1) Fraudster steals username/password of victim and logs into cryptocurrency exchange.
2) Fraudster takes over victim’s phone number through a SIM swap attack.
3) With Payfone enabled, the cryptocurrency exchange can call our APIs to see if a SIM swap has occurred on that account.
4) If a SIM swap has occurred, the cryptocurrency exchange routes the user to further inspection before granting them access to the account.
5) Because accounts can be locked before any damage can be done, the cryptocurrency exchange is able to shut down hackers before they can do harm, safeguarding their users’ cryptocurrency.
Why CX and digital executives should also take note
From a customer experience standpoint, Phone Intelligence has the additional benefit of creating a more seamless experience for legitimate users. Since many SIM swaps are legitimate (in 2018, there were 90 million ports and 100 million device upgrades in the U.S.), simply detecting SIM swaps and hitting anyone who has swapped their SIM with a ton of friction can be significantly damaging to your customers’ experience and, in turn, customer satisfaction. Enterprises must be careful not to slow down the experience for customers who may have legitimately ported their numbers or upgraded their devices. By analyzing the contextual behavior and time of a SIM swap, Payfone provides a more sophisticated and nuanced approach to thwarting SIM swap fraud. As a result, you can offer a faster and easier experience for good customers while identifying potential bad actors and subjecting them to further inspection.
It’s also important to note that customers of businesses who do not use Payfone have to jump through considerable hoops if they want to go the DIY route to protect themselves against SIM swap fraud. There are numerous articles that give recommendations on how to do this (calling your mobile carrier, setting up a pincode, then setting up a longer 16-digit pincode, etc.) but not only is this time-consuming, these precautions are totally ineffective when hackers break directly into telecom companies to swap SIMs.
The Bottom Line: Implementing technology that not only safeguards your customers against SIM swap attacks but also betters their experience is an investment. However, it’s an investment that can not only help you avoid losing customers, but also to attract new customers by differentiating your company as one that cares about their security, convenience, and experience.
Want to learn more about protecting your company against SIM swap fraud while also improving your customer experience? Request a free consultation below.
Payfone is a proud sponsor of the 2020 Hack@CEWIT hackathon at Stony Brook! Hosted by the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT), this year’s hackathon will see over 150 regional hackers battle it out for over $5K in prizes for the most innovative security, health-care, machine learning, A.I., blockchain, social impact, and IoT projects. The hackathon takes place February 14-16, and is open to college undergrad and grad students.
The event will also be open to the public on Sunday, Feb. 16 from 10:30am – 12pm, so come by and say hello! Visit the CEWIT site to register.
Heading to San Francisco for RSA? Use the form below to meet with us at the show to discuss how and why your fraud mitigation technology should also be improving your customer experience. And be sure to join Payfone CEO Rodger Desai as he takes the stage at eFraud Global Forum.
eFraud Global Forum: The Key to Thwarting Advanced Fraud Attacks While Improving CX
Speaker: Rodger Desai, CEO, Payfone
Date: Monday, February 24, 2020
Heading to Washington, D.C. for Health Datapalooza 2020? Join our VP of Healthcare Strategy, Mike Bechtel, as he takes the stage to share insights about how healthcare organizations can increase contactability and engagement in a HIPAA-compliant, privacy-first manner through Payfone’s tokenized identity solutions.
HDP Rapid Fire: Ensuring Data Privacy and Security
Session: Stop the Tug of War between Delivering Great Member Experiences, Privacy and Security
Speaker: Mike Bechtel, MHSA, FACHE, Payfone
Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Location: Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C.
At this point, the bank has a decision to make: every year millions of their customers actually do forget their password and need help. These processes are now automated so that call centers can focus on higher value services for customers. But of course, the OPEX savings and better customer experience don’t outweigh heavy fraud losses due to SIM swaps. So what do the Tier 1 banks do?
(3) The bank pings Payfone’s patented SIM swap technology, and in real time, Payfone is able to tell the bank whether a SIM swap has occurred in the last few hours. Payfone does this by checking the “born on date” of the SIM. If the SIM was recently changed (via a port-out or device swap) then the born-date would be a smoking gun.*
* The likelihood of a high-risk event such as password reset happening at the same time as a SIM change warrants further vetting, so the bank does not send an SMS with a password reset code to the customer/possible fraudster, and instead steps up the transaction.
Simple and powerful, Payfone protects the leading banks, insurers, fintechs and cryptocurrency wallets from SIM swap attacks in real-time for over 100M US consumers. In a recent case, a Tier 1 US bank saw SIM swap fraud drop significantly in real-time after launching Payfone.
We also recently expanded this capability to UK banks as part of a global roll-out.
Did you know that Sir Richard Branson is a digital security do-gooder? The Virgin founder is taking aim at online fraudsters in a delightful new animated video posted on his Instagram feed. In the clip, Branson and his dubious doppelganger walk through some common online scam methods such as phishing, bots and social engineering. Branson briefly describes each of the suspicious scenarios and warns Virgin followers not to trust anyone masquerading as him or his team and asking for personal information.
“At Virgin Group, we’re working hard to unmask scammers,” he says. “Only trust what we post on our official channels and social media channels.”
To further fight fraud, Virgin has even set up a webpage dedicated to stopping online scams here. Branson urges viewers to report anything they think is suspicious on the site. “If you think it’s a con, send it on,” he says.
While being defrauded and losing money is clearly a concern for most people, there is an important – albeit less obvious – consequence. Online scammers lower everyone’s trust of transacting online – from consumers to enterprises. Because no one trusts anyone, all consumers are forced through experience-killing, time-sucking, and revenue-stunting friction (passwords, security questions, one-time passcodes) to prove they are who they say they are. Payfone-powered digital experiences restore Trust and sideline scammers so that they are unable to touch your customers’ cash or ruin their experience.
To learn how our Trust Score can help you distinguish between fraudsters and your real customers, contact us.