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Personal Finance

Shifting consumer habits demand fresh focus to fight fraud

PFD identified 90 merchant websites compromised by multiple variants of ecommerce skimmers.

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Shifting consumer habits demand fresh focus to fight fraud

Nearly every part of daily life has changed as the world continues to fight back against COVID-19. Most observers agree that the increased focus on digital commerce by consumers and merchants will likely remain even after a vaccine is found and the economy rebounds.

As the pandemic and its economic impact extend into 2021 and beyond, these new habits will likely crystalize. It is important for merchants and financial institutions to adapt now to support consumer behavior through safe, reliable digital commerce.

READ MORE: CBN wants to be able to freeze bank accounts linked to suspected criminals

A shift to online channels by consumers and fraudsters

Globally, consumers are shopping more online. Just look at the numbers.

  • In Nigeria, more consumers turned to online shopping for the first time with 42% of shoppers starting to purchase food via eCommerce platforms.
  • In South Africa, in-store physical activity greatly dwindled, with 63% consumers visiting physical grocery stores less often.
  • In Kenya, consumers’ preference for digital solutions is fast increasing as customers turned online for shopping. 43% of consumers started purchasing from pharmacies online
  • In the U.S., Visa credentials active in spending on eCommerce channels, excluding travel, were over 12% higher in June than in January. Moreover, when you examine the active credentials who tend to be more significantly engaged in eCommerce, the spend per active credential increased by over 25%.
  • In the U.K., active eCommerce credentials increased 16% while spend per active credential increased 3%.

Where consumers go, fraudsters follow and Visa’s Payment Fraud Disruption (PFD) team has seen a similar shift in fraudulent activities/fraud attempts from in-store to online.

Between March and April 2020, there was a rise in fraudsters establishing short-term “COVID”-named merchants and using these fraudulent merchants to perform account testing and enumeration. This is where fraudsters use merchants or financial institutions to guess account numbers, expiration dates and CVV2/security codes through automated testing. This activity is often marked by high volumes of low-dollar declines.

Our Visa team also saw an increase in e-commerce skimming attacks, where fraudsters inject malicious JavaScript code into the websites of merchants and service providers to digitally harvest payment information such as billing address, account number, expiration date, and CVV2 from the checkout forms on e-commerce pages. In April 2020 alone, PFD identified 90 merchant websites compromised by multiple variants of e-commerce skimmers.

Fortunately, fraud prevention capabilities such as Visa Account Attack Intelligence, which prevents account testing, and Visa eCommerce Threat Disruption, which prevents online skimming, are free of charge and are among the many fraud prevention layers and security benefits available to Visa clients.

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Visa, financial institutions, and payment providers work hard to keep consumers’ payments safe – using multiple layers of security to prevent fraud, protect data, and help them get their money back if someone uses their card without permission. Yet, fraudsters are counting on consumers to be distracted and let their guard down, so they can trick them into handing over their personal or financial information.

This is why we believe consumer education is key in the fight against fraud and we have been helping consumers understand how to spot fraudulent activity and how to protect their sensitive information, particularly now, when most of our payments have shifted to digital.

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Here are three simple steps every consumer can follow to stay safe when shopping online:

  • Pay securely online – When paying online, use Visa Checkout that offers an extra layer of protection and always check the URL to ensure it begins with “https://”. The “s” at the end confirms a secure connection.
  • Pay securely in-app – Update your passwords with a strong password unique to each account or better yet, switch to fingerprint or facial recognition for account login and/or payments if it’s an option.
  • Beware of phishing scams – Be careful of unsolicited and suspicious emails, SMS or phone calls. They may try to steal personal information like your account number, username and password. If in doubt, do not click on any links or download files.

Additionally, we implement a rule-based authentication service called Visa Cardholder Authentication Service (VCAS) that combines risk intelligence and targeted rules strategy to help reduce customer friction as well as provide seamless payment experiences.

The need for contactless payment acceptance in Nigeria

While online commerce has increased, in-store purchases have not gone away. Essential workers still have to go into the office and re-fuel for their commute and some goods simply cannot be purchased online and delivered to consumers. In these situations, embracing contactless card payments can offer peace of mind. Visa data shows that consumers are increasingly embracing contactless across the world, and as Main Streets and High Streets reopen, consumers are asking for more touchless options to pay.

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Touchless, or contactless payments, where one can tap to pay with a card or smart phone, enables a safe and secure experience without the need for consumers to touch the checkout terminal and early indications show usage is high among grocery stores and pharmacies around the world. A few other trends include:

  • Nearly 50 countries improved tap to pay penetration by more than 5% and over 10 countries increase by 10% or more from fiscal year Q2 to Q3.
  • Visa helped more than 55 countries increase the tap to pay limits, reducing the share of transactions that require consumer contact by more than 40% in several of those countries.
  • In the U.S., more than 80M contactless Visa payment cards were added in the first 6 months of the calendar year as financial institutions accelerated their issuance schedules.

READ ALSO: Crypto-Scammers stole $24 million worth of BTCs in 2020  

Despite the increase in penetration and card issuance, the fraud rate for contactless payments is significantly lower than the overall card present fraud rate, which illustrates the security of tapping to pay.

Although there may be some regression back to the norm after the pandemic, it is not a leap to think some habits will remain. The shift to buying online is here to stay. For merchants and financial institutions, adapting to new consumer habits not only means meeting customer preference, but it is also an investment into the future of digital payments. It is time for Nigeria to embrace the convenience and security of tapping to pay in-store.

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Financial Literacy

How to invest for retirement

Planning for retirement means planning to reduce obligation in the future by investing today.

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How not to worry about money in retirement

“If you plan to retire in five years what should you be doing today?” That’s a question I got last week, and talking with the client, a lot came up which I have decided to share.

First off, What is retirement?

Nigeria’s public service has an official retirement age of 60 or thirty-five years of unbroken active working service, but in financial planning, retirement is a financial, not a chronological event. Retirement can occur when your passive income can meet your non-discretionary expenses.

You start to plan for retirement the day you start to earn an income. Your retirement plan will centre on how to generate passive income and reduce expenses. In Financial Planning, Four distinct stages are usually described in a so-called Lifecycle Chart. These are the Accumulation, Consolidation, Spending, and Gifting stages. Chart 1. Financial LifeCycle seeks to segment investing priorities, recommended asset allocation, and risk profile in a chronological timeline as the person gets older. I will take each of these stages and explain how they are linked to your retirement plan.

READ: How to choose the right Pension Fund Administrator (PFA)

Chart: Financial Life Cycle

Early years: Use Your Time and Make Money, (Accumulate)

The first stage is called the Accumulation stage. Imagine a 22-year-old who has just graduated and is a management trainee. He typically has a low credit score and assets and income are also substantially lower. What he has in abundance is time. So it’s important to deploy his time in the best way to make money. Hence in the accumulate stage, the goal is to generate cash flow either from a job, multiple jobs, working longer hours, saving, cutting unnecessary expenses, etc.

The key measure in the accumulation stage is the Savings Rate which is essentially how much of income earned or generated has not been spent. On average, the participants in the accumulation stage have fewer dependents and maintenance needs which should theoretically make it easier to save.

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READ: This thread exposed everything that’s wrong with Nigeria’s VAT

Mid Years Use Your Money To Buy Assets (Consolidation)

In the consolidation stage the focus shifts from saving to investing. At this stage, the income earned and credit scores have improved. This is when the talk of buying a home or starting a business takes concrete shape because, at this stage, those dreams can be funded. Hence capacity to take on debt is improved, and debt is used to invest in assets like a home. Remember debt is simply front-loaded consumption, which means we are taking our future income to invest today, intending to repay with future income generated from today investment.

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The key measure in the consolidation stage is the Rate of Return which is essentially how much has been generated from the investments made.

READ: How to choose the right Pension Fund Administrator (PFA)

Spending & Gifting Phase; Use Your Assets To Generate Cash Flow and Time (Spending and Gifting)

Why is it called the spending phase? Because that’s what the individual is doing, spending down accumulated investments. The spending will include buying annuities or perhaps relocating to another city, your dependant’s college needs, etc. At this stage, typically very few are still earning “new” income but are rather spending from the return of prior investments.

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The key measure in the spending stage is the Withdrawal Rate which is essentially how much of investment can be withdrawn as cash annually to ensure we do not outlive our investments.

READ: How interest rates impact your wallet

Retirement is All About Passive Income

Passive income, which is the income we are making from investing from the accumulation and consolidation stage is now sufficient to generate income and reduce expenses to meet our expenses in the spending/gifting stage.

To give an example, assume we took a mortgage to buy a house in the Consolidation Stage, in the Spending stage, we pay no rent, thus we save cash, which reduces our Non-Discretionary Expenses. In essence, retirement is planning to eliminate your future expenses to the point where you need less income when you retire.

What Should You Invest In Before Retirement Or In Retirement?

Our objective is simple, Income. In retirement, we invest solely to make income to meet our spending needs, Risk profile is also very low because there are fewer recovery options if your investments sink.

The retirement portfolio is an income-generating portfolio that will be overweight in fixed income products. First, determine what the risk-free rate is. In Nigeria, we can take the yield on a ten-year FGN bond as a guide, this means we can have a target of 10% as our huddle rate for the long term. Thus I will recommend an 80/20 portfolio with 80% going to Fixed Income consisting of long term bonds, REITs, and other top-grade commercial paper.

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However what happens if we lock in our funds for 10 years at 10% and rates jump to 20%, meaning a loss to our portfolio.  To avoid this risk we can create a bond ladder, where we break down the bulk sum and duration of our total bond investment outlay. Let us assume we have N10m in cash to invest, instead of one single lot investment of N10m, we split into 5 equal investments of N2m and place for 6, 7, 8, 9, and ten-year maturities. This means by the 5th year the first N2m will mature, if rates are higher, reinvest, if rates have fallen then reevaluate.

READ: 10 Side gigs to venture into while working a full-time job

What about Equities

Yes, equities also pay a dividend. In buying equities, we must ensure we are only buying stocks that pay a dividend above our huddle rate of 10% which is the 10-year FGN bond rate. Which Nigerian stock meet that huddle rate?

  • Lasaco
  • Zenith
  • GT bank
  • United cap

In closing, let us summarize. Retirement is not chronological age. The event occurs when our passive income pays our bills. Planning for retirement means planning to reduce obligation in the future by investing today. Investing in retirement is income-based with a huddle.

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Financial Literacy

Steps to take to bag international scholarships

Here are the steps you should take if interested in pursuing international scholarships.

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United Kingdom opens window of job opportunities for international students

Studying abroad gives you exposure among many other things, and that is precisely why many Nigerians have been looking for ways to study abroad. However, not everybody is privileged with the resources to study overseas and this is where the international scholarship option comes in.

If you are interested in studying abroad and don’t have enough funds, you should consider applying for international scholarships. This article lists the steps you can take to bag international scholarships but before delving into that, here are some types of scholarships available to you as an international student:

  • Location-based scholarships
  • Course or program-based scholarships
  • Sports-related scholarships
  • Research-based scholarships
  • University-funded scholarships
  • Organization-funded scholarships
  • Government-funded scholarships

Having discovered the types of international scholarships available to you, here are the steps you should take to bag any of these international scholarships.

Research: Research is vital if you don’t want to miss out on good opportunities or make mistakes during your application. Research scholarship opportunities available in your prospective college or location and be on the lookout for hidden scholarships.

Check your eligibility: Having done thorough research and discovered the available scholarship opportunities, check to see if you are eligible for them. Many international scholarships have their criteria and requirement, so you should confirm that you are the right fit first.

Get the required documents: After confirming your eligibility, you should get the necessary documents. If the scholarship requires you to write an exam, prepare for the exam, write a good statement of purpose and prepare all other documents.

Start your admission process: Some international scholarships require that you start your admission process and probably get the admission before starting your scholarship application.

Contact past scholarship winners: You might want to contact the previous scholarship winners to know what they did right and how you can learn from them.

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Apply for the available scholarships: The last step is to apply to every available scholarship.

The best way to get funds for your undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD pursuits abroad is by applying for international scholarships. If you do thorough research, you can find fully funded scholarships that won’t require you to pay any amount. One of the essential steps to getting an international scholarship as a Nigerian is staying abreast of current information and this will require you to network with others.

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