IBM buys German machine learning firm to combat fraud


As the growing use of counterfeit prevention technology in credit cards makes traditional payment fraud increasingly difficult to pull off, hackers are turning to new and more sophisticated methods in order to target their victims. IBM Corp. wants to help the banking industry maintain its edge in this intensifying game of cat-and-mouse with the acquisition of a low-key German outfit called IRIS Analytics GmbH that claims to have developed a means to keep up.

Its namesake fraud mitigation platform provides the ability to implement countermeasures for a new theft tactic within as little as a day of its detection thanks to a much-touted filter management mechanism that is described as a lot less unwieldy than competing alternatives. After a policy is rolled out, built-in machine learning algorithms monitor its effectiveness and automatically recalibrate the underlying logic if scammers try to adjust their modus operandi. IRIS says that its software can even create entire transaction processing models from scratch should the circumstances call for it.

Payments flagged by the platform are sorted by account and prioritized based on factors such as the amount of money involved and the importance of the affected clients in order to ensure fraud analysts spend their time as efficiently possible. The entire process takes just a few fractions of a second to complete from the moment that a suspicious transaction is made, which IRIS claims to make its software capable of supporting the world’s busiest banking environments.

French payment clearing vendor STET relies on the platform to screen some 5.5 billion debit and credit card purchases annually at the cost of less than a five millisecond delay for each, according to a canned testimonial released by IBM on occasion of the acquisition. The technology will help the company take on a bigger role in the financial services sector amid its campaign to monetize the fast-growing demand for analytics throughout vertical markets.

The other major pillar of that plan is the healthcare industry, where Big Blue has been even more active in recent quarters. The company last year released a cloud-based incarnation of its Watson supercomputer specifically geared toward processing the complicated unstructured data used in clinical research. And most recently, IBM acquired Merge Healthcare Inc. for a billion dollars to bring its medical image management technology into the fold.

Image via Geralt