Tony Poulos Interview

12 September 2016

Tony Poulos speaking about the telecom industry and the biggest issues of the RA and Fraud area in Latin America

It gets harder every day to add value to a telecoms business that constantly changes its services and business models. How operators can addresses these issues?
Telecoms operators, in fact, were rather slow to add new services and change their traditional voice and business models. Whilst they are prompt in introducing the latest network technologies they are not always able to make the best of them with and tend to wait until revenues start dropping before hitting the panic button. This is not surprising because they have always been risk averse and have never had to resell third party services, a necessity these days because they cannot build things like cloud services on their own quickly.

It is paramount for the operator to have mechanisms to identify the cause and root of fraud. The fraudster changes their schemes and cannibalize the operation. How work with these fraudsters, as they are getting so Sophisticated?
Any business that operates online will at some point be exposed to fraudulent activity. High call charges, particularly for international calling, made operators premium targets in the past. As a result, they were very early adopters of fraud management systems and these have evolved into some of the most effective available for any industry. Other businesses entering the digital arena are looking at these systems themselves. Yes, it’s true the fraudsters are always becoming more sophisticated and are using their own automated tools and it may never be possible to stop them before they commit a fraud, but it is the speed at which the activity can be recognized and stopped that is key.

Considering the constant changes in the telco business: What is the priority regarding control?
Any business, telco or otherwise, aims to be in control of all the factors that affect the cost, revenue and profitability – or at least they should be! The pace of change and the need for real-time coverage of all aspects of the business means that assuring the business needs real-time tools as well. It’s not enough to audit every three or six months, by then it’s too late and losses can be extreme. Today, everything happens in real-time so systems monitoring the business need to work the same way, too.

What are the mechanisms to detect new frauds?
Without doubt it will be advanced statistical analytics - i.e. earlier detection for unknown fraud types that you don't have rules for and machine learning/artificial intelligence where the machines are able to eventually learn from experience and pre-empt the fraudsters (almost like a sci-fi movie).

What is, in your opinion, the biggest issues of the RA area?
The big question for me is who will take responsibility for RA in the business. Up until now it has come under IT and/or finance but the combination if fraud and RA teams into one department, the latest trend, indicates that it should probably come under the remit of risk in due course. Another big challenge for RA is the ever-broadening mix of technologies (2G,3G,4G, Cable, Wi-Fi, IoT) all working together at the same time. This leads to complexity in new business models created by bundling of different services from different suppliers and giving the customer one price yet having to accurately calculate payments back to the suppliers based on differing contracts and SLAs. New partner ecosystems will include B2B, B2C, B2B2X – what a challenge for RA.

How do you see the Fraud Management scenario in Latin America?
The sector will grow rather dramatically simply because new technology and new services are always prime targets for the fraudsters. With regard to the people working in fraud management, they are very good and that they take advantage of a lot of telco groups that have presence worldwide and this allows them to share and take advantage of best practices. I understand that countries like Brazil have excellent universities that deliver security expertise and that is a plus for fraud management departments.

You will be the chairman of RA & Fraud this year in Brazil. What are your expectations for the event?
If past experiences are any indication I will be blown away by some brilliant presentations that reveal different scenarios I have not seen before, but most importantly will be the networking with the leading lights in the Latin American RA and fraud management scene. 

Tony Poulos, Market Strategy Advisor at WeDo Technologies


About WeDo Technologies