By Jordan Blake, Payments Journal
The fintech world is having a meteoric 2020. Already riding a wave of early-adopter momentum in recent years, the industry gained massive followers out of necessity as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the public’s ability to shop in-person or visit traditional financial firms’ branch offices for banking, lending and other services. On top of all of this, no one could have anticipated the unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus package in March, including forgivable small-business loans and checks for Americans, which further boosted fintech’s acceleration by permitting more of these new apps and services to participate in the recovery effort.
Yet, with every rapid rise come higher stakes and consequences for cybersecurity and overall trust. Criminals know where quick moves under certain circumstances tend to score illicit profits. The FBI recently issued an alert on elevated fraud taking advantage of mobile finance apps’ popularity during the pandemic, warning that individuals are falling victim to a range of threats including malicious software masquerading as financial apps, and password-stealing Trojan software helping criminals perform account takeovers (ATO) of existing, legitimate services. This is discomforting news on top of widespread health and safety concerns but it is exactly in-line with cybercrime history. In fact, the FTC issued similar alerts in 2009 during America’s last financial crisis, warning of deceptive Web sites and malicious messages and links pegged to stimulus buzz, financial uncertainty and greater reliance on online banking.
Cybercrime always follows the money and has upped its game considerably since 2009, so how can fintech stakeholders sustain their industry’s growth? No technology or service is bulletproof, however fintech leaders seeking to build on their value proposition and brand reputations well after the pandemic subsides should consider three factors in the bigger picture.