Liron Damri is the President and founder of Forter - a trust platform startup for digital commerce based in Tel Aviv. Damri is also an eCommerce and payments expert believes in asking the right questions and getting the best people to answer them. He has a proven track record of turning business analytics into strategy, action, and results. We caught up with him to find out more.
Q: What inspired you to get into fintech?
As a person who has had to do a lot of traveling, I would get blocked from making online purchases in other countries, time and time again. Every time, it drove me nuts. Fintech became both a personal mission and a global mission for me.
Fintech is the gateway into many, many opportunities in the world. Getting people to access their money and be able to make purchases with global vendors is incredibly important as it allows us to democratize the world’s economy. As we advance global access to digital commerce, we are incredibly proud of the work we do at Forter, leading the charge and pushing the limits for digital commerce across geographic boundaries.
Q: In which ways can fraud prevention support a robust economy?
The answer is found in flipping fraud prevention on its head. Classically, most fraud prevention companies emphasize reducing losses and train their fraud managers to exclusively focus on finding ways to avoid risks. What Forter is trying to do is turn that model upside down. We try to talk about, encourage and support businesses by adding trust into the process.
Merchants and customers have confidence in potential customers because they trust that Forter will take care of bad actions. At the same time, we allow all the good customers to come through. In the long run, the retailer will feel more confident producing more and selling better products to maximize revenue. That’s the role fraud prevention plays to help innovation and economic growth for both businesses and the consumer markets, overall.
Q: What role do machine learning and artificial intelligence play in regard to real-time decision-making for tackling fraud?
Machine learning is the front gate for us. When it comes to real-time decision-making, a human being simply cannot deliver at the size and the scale needed in the digital commerce industry. Not only can machine learning process huge volumes of data, but it helps us to avoid personal biases. When people make judgments, they have statistical and innate biases. Those patterns need to be broken to democratize digital commerce.
At the same time, the human factor is extremely important too. We need to allow experts to apply learning and insight to better inform machine learning models. Forter specifically creates that symbiotic—with analysts and researchers evolving our models to stay ahead of known and unknown forms of fraud and to tune our platform to the specific objectives of our customers.
Q: Why is it so important now more than ever to use fintech to also focus on the overlooked areas of financial fraud?
Currently, digital commerce is going through a very significant, transformative trend. We’re seeing businesses transition from depending on and accepting a single transactional relationship with their customers, where all they want you to do is to complete the order, into a reliance on relationship-driven commerce. Leaders are playing the long game.
Now, merchants think about the overall interaction with their customers; they need their clientele to come back again and again. Behind the scenes in the big-picture, there's the concept of interactions and relationship management evolving in digital commerce.
With more accounts and higher stakes, the threat side is also shifting. There are more attack vectors, and more places bad actors can cause more damage. We're indeed seeing a very significant increase in account level attacks, even more than two years ago at the beginning of the pandemic. Those attacks aren’t necessarily limited to the transaction itself, but rather stealing account credentials. Fraudsters will steal loyalty points or abuse your promotions, which damage long-term customer relationships. Because, at the end of the day, who will trust a company or brand and spend their money with an entity where account information has been compromised or denied due to fraud?
Q: Does Forter have any action-packed stories of thieves being locked away as a result of its work?
We don't do the enforcement part, so we only try to push fraudsters over to somebody else in law enforcement. Although, our technology has had some pretty cool wins. We helped a rock band that went to Iceland and lost their luggage to purchase a new guitar with one-day shipping when it the purchase kept being declined by multiple retailers. We also were once able to get a Rolex watch as a gift, a $65,000 watch, to Nigeria on behalf of the CEO of an oil company. There are countless examples of traditional systems making inaccurate decisions based on bad or stale data and reactive rules.
Q) Where do you see the most significant opportunities when it comes to added services in the fraud-prevention vertical?
We must acknowledge how many more interactions there are for companies to protect nowadays. It is ultimately up to the business to keep multiple areas like the account, the loyalty points, the promotions, and returns safe from fraud. Ultimately, there is now so much more space for fraud prevention to be implemented on much deeper levels.
On the other side, there's also a whole new area that's evolving. That is the abuse side, when people treat very generous return policies, or very generous resale policies, as a way to create gains that shouldn't be happening. The challenge is that policy abuse is not as black and white as fraud, and it’s perpetrated not just by fraudsters, but also by good customers capitalising on flexible policies. Thus, it becomes even more critical for businesses to understand who they are interacting within real-time, and to provide the requisite experience.
Q: What are your thoughts on cryptocurrencies?
For us, it's still a new system to the new world, which will have an entry point and an exit point. There has to be a gatekeeper that keeps the trust. Our mission at Forter will be to ensure that's us. We're very, very excited about crypto and what it will bring to the broader digital economy and for the opportunity to be at the forefront of the crypto-revolution.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to your past self from ten years ago about being a fintech founder and executive, what would it be?
There's a lot of stuff that I could do better with the knowledge that I have now, but I think the biggest piece of advice I would share would be to think bigger. Every single time we have decided to take the big swing, rather than the easy thing, we made the right call.
I have learned to go for the solution that is the right thing to do for the customer. Even if it's a long road ahead or more work, just go for it and go with what will be the best answer for them. Taking that path will always take you higher.
Q: What are the best ways fintech companies can accelerate their growth?
Partner and collaborate. Fintech is a very robust and sophisticated industry with a ton of brilliant minds. The people worth talking to are eager to share, collaborate and create synergies. I am a big believer in sharing ideas and bringing other peoples’ thoughts into the room.
Q: Please summarise your business life in three words.
I choose to go with a “win-win situation.” That's the mindset we're striving to build with customers, with employees, and with our investors. If we can find a way to shift competing interests to complementary interests, we can generate more value.
Q: What is next for Forter in the coming 24 months?
There are so many things that we're doing; however, one of the things that we're very focused on is taking on a huge diversity and inclusion initiative.
We want to make sure that our company reflects the diversity of our customers and their consumers. We are challenging ourselves to seek out diverse people and perspectives as we continue to grow our team and our role in the digital commerce ecosystem.
Q: Lastly, what is the one thing you want everyone to know about Liron Damri?
In terms of the organisation and business we have today, I want people to know that Michael Reitblat and I met in high school. Michael and I went through this entire journey together. We co-founded Forter during a road trip to the great national parks in the United States. To celebrate the company’s ten-year anniversary in 2023, we plan on revisiting that same trip.