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MEET THE PEOPLE David Lotfi, CEO, Evina

David Lotfi is CEO of Evina, an independent and innovative anti-fraud actor. Evina developed DCBprotect, which is now the leading anti-fraud solution on the market adopted by all key players: editors, payment gateways and mobile network operators (Proximus, Bouygues, Play, Digital Virgo, Alchimie, PM Connect and more).

While attending a telecommunications engineering university, David interned at a Parisian startup in the direct carrier billing services field. Within a few years, David became the CTO managing a team of 20 developers, while the company grew to 50 people and reached a turnover of €15m. In 2013, massive fraud patterns began to appear on the market, and in response, David developed a very successful anti-fraud solution. Five years later, David bought full ownership of his anti-fraud solution, and with the help of his former employees, founded Evina.

Here he discusses the major competitive advantages that DCB brings and how, through managing fraud, it can go from strength to strength.

What are the main benefits that derive from direct carrier billing?

In an innovative world ripe with opportunity, but where the majority of people in promising markets often don’t have formal sector bank accounts, DCB is a convenient and accessible mobile payment method. It’s no surprise that in 2020 and according to Juniper Research, 20% of digital content was billed via DCB because so many more human beings have mobile phones than bank accounts on our planet.

The need for mobile users to create a plethora of digital accounts with their own unique usernames and passwords is starting to become an annoyance for the typical mobile user. DCB dispenses with the need to create multiple accounts.

In addition, DCB offers payment innovations like the effortless 1-click payment option, which makes for quick and convenient payments for mobile users and all mobile players involved in the transaction. DCB is a mobile payment method that could truly benefit all parties involved.

Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which countries?

Yes. As alluded to above, DCB offers a major competitive advantage because so many people worldwide don’t have debit or credit cards. One estimate is that a whopping 82 of people worldwide don’t have a credit card. If you compare that to the billions of mobile phones in use around the world, we can easily believe that by the end of this year, a prediction by Merchant Savvy that mobile payments will surpass credit cards and cash, will surely come true.

Even if there were more bank cards in use around the world, the mainstream you refer to in your question values convenience, affordability and security above all else. DCB ticks all these boxes and many more.

On the African continent, in particular, we have the perfect storm for the continued strong growth of DCB. We have a growing population of mostly unbanked young people who are taking to mobile technology in droves.

What are the key inhibitors for growth?

Mobile fraud is undoubtedly the number one culprit hindering DCB’s growth. It does this by damaging the brand image of mobile players that set out to use DCB as a convenient payment method but unfortunately didn’t speak to DCB anti-fraud specialists beforehand.

Our position is that fraud will never completely go away, but it can be managed to the extent that fraud simply joins the list of action items that need attention. Indeed, with the right DCB partner, fraud needn’t increase complaint management costs and sabotage new business opportunities. The proper management of fraud can itself be turned into a source of competitive advantage.

Key to the proper management of fraud is the implementation of the right anti-fraud solution that will unlock the full range of DCB benefits. With the right solution, MNOs have been able to drop their fraud rate to below 1% and decrease the number of complaints by 50%. This then led to the number of DCB transactions increasing by +400%.

Your words of wisdom: On a more personal level, what is the most inspiring piece of advice that has seen you through life in business to this day?

I firmly believe that every crisis well-managed will eventually turn out to be an opportunity in disguise. This is because the organisation that emerges at the other end is more often than not a much more resilient and capable company. When companies are affected by fraud, it’s not all bad news because it’s an opportunity for the company to grow technologically and change the way it operates, and therefore gain a competitive advantage over its competitors.

This is exactly what we do at Evina. After being faced with a fraud crisis, we provide companies with the tools they need to grow even stronger in the end. A great example is of one of our customers, a European mobile operator that was having a lot of trouble getting rid of fraud. The situation seemed so irreparable that they were thinking of completely ceasing the direct carrier billing service as the cost of managing fraud was too elevated.

We managed to clean up their traffic flows, reduce their fraud rate and consequently reduce their complaint rate. This was a business-saving partnership as it allowed DCB to not only survive but thrive. We monitored and reduced fraud on all their traffic which meant that the mobile operator was able to create new business partnerships, previously inaccessible, which significantly boosted their turnover.

The mobile operator’s crisis was an opportunity in disguise, as it unleashed the power of carrier billing by freeing it from the grasp of fraud. That’s what I like most about cybersecurity: we intervene to solve a problem, yet we end up developing new opportunities and becoming a reliable partner to boost our customer’s business growth.

What have been the most significant effects of Covid19 on the market and what do you advise in this challenging set of circumstances?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the digitalization of many of our habitual activities from relationships to online transactions. With hundreds of millions of more consumers online, the result is a much bigger flow of traffic, money and prosperity. This is another perfect storm, and one perfectly suited to fraudsters.

With fraudulent activities naturally increasing during the pandemic, mobile players need to protect themselves now more than ever with an anti-fraud solution. Those that already have an anti-fraud solution in place, should remain vigilant and report any suspicious attempts to their cybersecurity firm.

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