CyberSource recently hosted its first Airline Fraud Forum in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). The event highlighted growing risks of data theft, including loyalty programme fraud and mobile fraud, for airlines in the region.
The one-day forum put the spotlight on increasing threats of cybercrime and ways to boost security at a time when consumers are increasingly adopting innovative digital payment systems. The forum witnessed keen participation from a number of airlines from around the region and was supported by IATA.
Javier Mejia, vice president, Visa Merchant Sales and Solutions, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Although such industry events have been held before in Latin America and Europe, we identified a gap in the MEA region at a time when it is more imperative than ever that airlines are aware of risks they face related to loyalty programmes and ticket booking services. The regional airline industry is increasingly playing a central role in the global airline network, with Dubai now classified as a leading hub with its strategic geographic location. Growing tourism to the region and rising passenger traffic have made Dubai the world’s busiest airport.”
The threat of data theft has increased globally over the past few years as more personal consumer data, including credit card information, travel and work habits, and hobbies and preferences, comes online. While these risks affect almost any industry across the world, there are certain threats that are associated more with services offered by airlines, such as loyalty programme fraud.
Loyalty programmes offered by airlines are becoming targets for fraud, according to RFi Group, where fraudsters purchase points with stolen cards, redeem points for goods and services, and take over loyalty accounts. A report by consulting firm AI Group Inc showed that about 72% of airline loyalty programmes have been prey to fraudsters, and 30% say the problem is growing each year.
The forum also worked as a discussion platform for regional airlines to discuss methods that can improve conversion rates and lower payment fraud while ensuring optimized operational costs.