Behind the Idea: SEON

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When it comes to fraud, the pandemic has created a swathe of newly vulnerable businesses and consumers. With countries in lockdown, many businesses were forced to close for months on end. To survive, they had to move online and so we’ve seen the almost instantaneous digitisation of many industries. The issue is that fraud grows in correlation with digital activity, so online businesses are having to rapidly respond to increased fraud levels as a result.

With retailers relying on delivery services during lockdown, friendly fraud has increased, while those committing criminal fraud are sadly taking advantage of the economic pressure that many of us are under. False employment sites are generated to steal identities, while phishing scams offer financial aid. To make matters worse, we’re also seeing those struggling financially turn to fraud to make ends meet.

As many businesses have had to rapidly respond to the pandemic by moving online, they must take action against fraud just as quickly. Merchants now have an increased responsibility to protect their more vulnerable customers and their own businesses. SEON’s Google Chrome fraud extension allows them to do just that. Within minutes of even hearing of the extension, this solution can be integrated into business models and be fully operational, rooting out false identities and fraud amongst genuine customers.

Tamas Kadar is the CEO of SEON

Tamas Kadar, CEO and co-founder of SEON, is known for his study and expertise in Deep Info Comms where he saw first-hand how fraudsters and hackers looked to get around security measures.

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

For SEON COO and co-founder, Bence, and I, our first project together was a crypto exchange for the Central and Eastern Europe region but unfortunately, we were soon the target of constant attacks from fraudsters. Despite the vast global market that is online fraud prevention and after trying out several solutions, we realised that we could build a better one ourselves. So, we set up SEON in 2017 and never looked back.

Despite at the time being new to the fraud industry, we knew we had to leapfrog legacy technology to create a digital native solution, one which is intuitive to changing fraud behaviour and environments.

How has this changed over the past few years?

Bence and I fought through venture capital preconceptions about central Europe start-ups, and won seed funding from well-known PortfoLion (OTP Group). We are now using that investment to buck the trend of other fraud businesses by making our tools self-service, a first of its kind. 

Since we launched SEON in 2017, we have raised €1.6M and in the last few months alone have doubled the size of our team, now counting 38 FTEs from a multinational workforce based across the UK, Hungary, Serbia, Mexico, and the Ukraine, amongst others. We are proud to be one of the few start-ups to be profitable only two years after launch, tripling our year on year gross revenue. What’s more, we started 2020 with infinite runway.

SEON was born in Budapest but we recently opened a new London office in the heart of Soho which will act as a Global HQ, as well as a hub from which to coordinate an international team.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

To fight a fraudster you have to think like one; be ruthless, innovative and relentless. This is a mentality we adopted when we saw that existing fraud prevention tech was failing. So, we built our company to complement this mindset, helping online businesses of all sizes fight back against fraud in a way that no other before us has achieved. 

SEON was built out of necessity to remove the barriers to fraud prevention that many businesses face. As such, we focussed on rapid integration times, rolling monthly contracts and a one-size-fits-all platform that is both easy to operate and accessible around the clock.  Our solution features best-in-class data analytics functionality and data enrichment capabilities, as well as flawless integration that can be achieved in just minutes. We’re proud of this, as most fraud prevention tools take weeks to integrate, but fraud waits for no one. 

What Fintech ideas have been implemented?

From global financial leaders to local start-ups, SEON helps all businesses overcome fraud, and we have a number of solutions that are highly beneficial for helping merchants achieve this, including the SEON Sense Platform and Intelligence Tool. We draw on data from across the internet to establish customers’ digital footprints, weaning out false accounts and actively preventing fraudulent transactions from taking place. 

The SEON Sense Platform provides a comprehensive end-to-end solution for fraud managers that can be tailored to the individual needs of the company. Its fraud prevention is driven by transactional data, and the solution can be integrated with existing platforms seamlessly to deliver transparent scores within 200ms. 

Meanwhile, our Intelligence Tool increases fraud detection accuracy with just one click. Users can simply enter an email address, IP address, phone number or location into the browser extension to get background information, which then enables fraud managers to see complete user-profiles and flag suspected fraudulent ones. As a result, companies can detect fake accounts with ease and results are available immediately. 

What benefits have these brought?

Within just a few short years SEON has helped companies save more than 10 million Euros, reviewed over 50 million transactions, and served more than 5,000 merchants. As such, we’re trusted by online lenders, retail banks, gaming companies, crypto exchanges, and some of the world’s biggest household names including AVIS, Air France, and Ladbrokes.  

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

There are many challenges that the fraud industry will face, not least the different types of cybercrime that are on the rise. Account takeover techniques have moved to the next level but aren’t being taken as seriously as they should be, while phishing scams – the number one cause for data breaches – are evolving rapidly. 

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

To be secure, we must understand the ever-changing threats, and then proactively protect ourselves against it. This requires a dynamic approach to fraud prevention, the likes of which we have not seen before. Without a fundamental change to the approach we take to fraud prevention, we may find ourselves in a losing battle. 

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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