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Wherever there are digital transactions, there is the risk of fraud. Mobile content is no exception, with ever-evolving methods to defraud customers, mobile content providers, payment aggregators and MNOs. All stakeholders must be aware of the fraud types and their differing impacts in order to align on best practice, limit the risk and stay ahead of the fraudsters.

MEF’s DCB Fraud Working Group has published a new whitepaper Combatting Fraud in Mobile Content to raise awareness and show how DCB fraud can be minimised. It calls for better self-regulation by the industry so that any response can be measured with regulators and MNOs proactively protecting the consumer experience with action against fraud that does not hinder honest stakeholders.

Here we’ve collected the thoughts of some of the working group members on how the industry can combat fraud and where in the complex value chain the responsibility for protecting consumers should lie.

Frederico Rosato – Pre-Sales & Marketing Director, Digital Virgo Group

Durability and growth in the digital content industry only can be reached if all key players exhaustively protect themselves against fraud, and fight together to boost the potential of a safe digital monetization market. In this context, it is necessary to be proactive. Our leitmotif is the sustainability of our own activity.

Seen our position in the heart of the ecosystem, we consider having a real responsibility in protecting end-user, as well as merchants and carriers. Actually, in Digital Virgo our priority has always been to ensure a safe and secured ecosystem for all players through strict operating rules and efficient technology.

For achieving this and ensuring the security of each transaction, we count with the know-how of well recognized external anti-fraud experts associated with internal machine learning solutions . Currently, we are investing heavily in development and innovations around our DV PASS platform to provide with cutting-edge technology and with the best state-of-the art shield to carriers.


We strongly believe that a long-term vision and tools shared by all actors, as well as a strict compliance process are part of a successful package. Ultimately, we must not forget that by protecting mobile content subscribers we are all contributing to unleash the growth of the Carrier Billing industry.

David Lofti, CEO, Evina

Today fraud is a pervasive phenomenon that can affect any and all players of the digital ecosystem, including mobile content subscribers. They are the most vulnerable of the lot as they often lack knowledge and the technological means to properly defend themselves. T

his is where mobile network operators, aggregators and merchants need to play their parts. One-sided protection is not an option when it comes to fraud. We must view security as a chain: one weak-link and the fraudsters rejoice for they interpret this as an open-door for malwares.

All of the market players are put at risk if this happens and the end-user is inevitably endangered, which is why unity is crucial.


Nevertheless unity alone is not enough, because the ecosystem cannot self-protect itself. MNOs, aggregators and merchants require a thorough anti-fraud solutions partner such as Evina, whose sole aim is to protect the whole ecosystem and every link of the chain, for the benefit and prosperity of all.

The fight against fraud requires high tech, a deep knowledge of cybersecurity, and unbiased solutions. It also demands knowledge of the payment system, as the goal is not only to protect, but to allow all market players to successfully complete online transactions with peace of mind.

Roland Kneisler – Head of Product, Vene Overwatch Fraud Protection, Freenet Digital

The mobile carrier billing ecosystem is caught in a vicious cycle.

It is a crucial part of an overly complex and opaque advertising and payment ecosystem with many (unknown) players in the value chain.

When incidents of fraud or unacceptable advertising happen, the MNOs’ (and therefore also the aggregators’) reactions are strong, but ineffective; for example regulation of payment processes or marketing restrictions that don’t solve the problem. This punishes trusted merchants and advertisers by making it harder for them to make a profit.

The outcome is declining revenues and ROIs that lead to even more aggressive advertising and illegitimate incidents by fraudulent market players. This in return leads to more restrictions, suspensions, or fines.


Trusted market players are leaving the industry because they are losing money and facing too many risks to their business. Consumers lose trust in mobile payment and choose other payment options that also provide fast and easy checkout processes.

The carrier billing ecosystem declines.

To get out of this vicious cycle, the problem needs to be cut out at its roots.

MNOs, aggregators, and merchants require an effective anti-fraud solution (like Vene Overwatch) that cuts out the bad actors and fraudulent transactions and leaves the industry room to build trust and thrive again.

Declan Pettit, Commercial Director, MCP Insight

Carriers share a common priority; protecting their brand and their customers. This can prove tricky with mobile payment fraud issues – as consumers see the carrier as their primary contact for complaints, rather than the merchant from whom they allegedly purchased the service.

Recent research by Analyses Mason highlights the following 2 factors as the major reason for consumer trust issues:

  • Being charged without consent
  • Difference between what was advertised and what was received

At the recent MEF sponsored virtual Global Carrier Billing event roundtable, the consensus was that it is in the interests of carriers to act – in a unified way – to protect their consumers from fraud.


However, limiting access to advertising channels like mainstream players Google/Facebook is not the answer – as advertisers need channel choice to compete. Neither is mandating onerous payment flows (captcha/OTP) – industry doesn’t want that but more crucially, neither do consumers – having got used to Amazon type one click flow.  Also, restricting DCB payments to big brands only forces smaller advertisers down the credit card route – which very much limits their market, especially in ‘unbanked’ territories.

So, the consensus; a unilateral approach from carriers should also include:

  • Adverting scanning from banner to landing page to pre-empt fraud issues
  • Separate payment platform from campaign management platform – and payment page needs to be controlled by the carrier, a trusted payment intermediatory or an independent 3rd party – with both anti-fraud detection AND payment ‘verification’ (proof of consent) in place in order to reduce unjustified consumer refunds/complaints.

Anzelle Robertson, Business Development Manager, Sam Media

The responsibility to protect the mobile content provider is one that falls equally on all participants in the ecosystem. Mobile network operators, payment aggregators and content providers should work together to create a regulatory- and technical landscape in which the customer experience comes first.

This means providing a seamless and efficient payment method on the one hand, whilst at the same time preventing carrier billing fraud and so garnering trust on the other.

Self-regulation means all stakeholders are equally represented and can contribute their knowledge of the respective stages of a DCB transaction (from digital marketing to payment to content provision and post-sale customer care) toward safeguarding the ecosystem.

To achieve this, barriers to communication between the respective stakeholders must be lowered and open dialogue must be encouraged. For like the MEF and other industry gatherings provide a valuable platform on which these solutions can be discussed, exchanged and ultimately implemented.

Ali Karaosman, Operations Director - MEA, Telecoming

Whose responsibility is it to protect the mobile content subscriber?

The first thing we need to understand is about the main actors operating and making possible the subscription models through DCB.

There are two figures in charge of preventing mobile fraud: the MNOs and the Content Providers.

On the one hand, the operator should know very well the digital marketing environment, the different traffic sources and the fraud varieties that can exist.

They should select their content providers according to their clean track record and they also should avoid working with those who are involved in malpractice.


The content provider, on the other hand, should advertise its services through trusted networks and put in place the necessary security measures to protect the user journey. He also needs to monitor all the traffic delaying on the most powerful technical tools.

Geoffrey Cleaves, Head of Secure-D at Upstream

Mobile fraud is here to stay, spreading by the minute, leaving mobile content subscribers vulnerable and in the dark. It is the common enemy of the mobile ecosystem and as in any alliance, the leaders need to come forward and charge.

Enter the mobile network operators. They wield the most influence, have the biggest budgets, and stand the most to lose when consumers’ confidence erodes. They have to self-regulate, take their own measures and force their business partners to do the same. They are also best positioned to educate their subscribers on how to avoid falling trap to fraud.

Upstream is pleased to have contributed to the “Combatting Mobile Fraud in Mobile Content Whitepaper”. In it we present the mobile content ecosystem, fraud types and best practices to mitigate the problem in an easy to understand manner. By defining a common language and agreeing steps forward, this whitepaper can be an important tool to help the community work together against fraud.

We invite readers to look at the use cases section where we detail how Secure-D and MTN South Africa – an example leader in the fight against fraud – worked together to bring fraud under control and grow the mobile content business again.

If you would like to contribute a comment to this article contact us at or leave your thoughts in the replies below.

Download – Combatting Fraud in Mobile Content

MEF’s whitepaper was developed by the DCB Fraud Working Group which brings together representatives from every part of the value chain. The aim is to share knowledge and best practice so that there is greater awareness, proactive prevention and greater industry collaboration so that mobile content fraud can be minimised.

Download now >

Webinar – A united approach to reverse the erosion of trust in mobile content payments

What can the industry do to protect its customers and ensure a healthy future for such an innovative market sector? In this briefing MEF members explore the nature of mobile content fraud and reveal the industry fightback.

Register now >