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Data for Good: Cifas’ Role in the Future Data Landscape

18 December 2023

In my recent blog “Economic Crime in the Data Age” I set out the reasons why now is the right time to create a bold vision for an economic crime data eco-system for the 21st century. While achieving this vision will take considerable time, expertise and investment, it is imperative we act now to tackle economic crime and its substantial human and financial cost to the UK.

At Cifas we are committed to working collaboratively with public, private and third sector partners to build a data-driven response to economic crime and to play our role as an active partner in the developing Data Strategy and data sharing landscape. We are unashamed in our ambition to be the pre-eminent not-for-profit economic crime data-sharing consortium - but what does this ambition mean in practice?

It means applying our 35 years of experience in managing a portfolio of data solutions, including the National Fraud Database (NFD) and Internal Fraud Database (IFD), to the broader economic crime space, incorporating the same high standards of data governance, information security and transparency.

The benefits of broadening our model into anti-money laundering and other economic crimes are clear, given the well-established dependencies between fraud, money laundering and other crimes. Analysing data across such financial crimes will enable us to detect linkages and networks; applying these insights beyond analogue, point in time information-matching, to digital, lifecycle data monitoring will enable our members to drive prevention to the next level.

Furthermore, a core-strength of the Cifas model is its basis as a multi-sector membership organisation. While our genesis was in the credit industry, in the past three decades, we have broadened out to incorporate a range of wider financial and non-financial sectors, such as telecommunications, e-commerce, gambling and crypto-currency sectors. Furthermore, we are committed to building a public-private response and have in recent times incorporated dozens of public sector members from both central and local government.

Now we want to go further. First by encouraging the online sector, particularly the social media companies, to join our mission and to incorporate our data solutions into their model for complying with the Online Safety Act provisions (see our recent blog here).

Second by building a model for large-scale, proactive two-way sharing of fraud data between the private sector and law enforcement - either through Cifas or as part of a future federated data model – for the purposes of industrialised prevention and detection.

Beyond this, we want to transform the use of the data we hold to drive better understanding and insights into the changing face of economic crime. As the UK's leading fraud prevention service, managing the largest database of instances of fraudulent conduct in the country, we are often the first place to see emerging threats and trends as they proliferate across the system. We already utilise our data and insights to push out proactive alerts to our members, along with information on key typologies and trends to build into their fraud prevention strategies. We are now further developing our data analysis and intelligence functions to provide more actionable and targeted insights to those on the front line of economic crime detection.

Finally, as a not-for-profit, the only factor driving the decisions we make is our mission to prevent and detect fraud and economic crime. With no shareholders to appease, we reinvest any surplus revenue in new products and services to help us achieve our mission, working with our partners to deliver the best solutions and outcomes for combatting economic crime.

The upcoming Economic Crime Data Strategy will set the ambitions for a new data sharing landscape. Cifas is ready to use our experience to play an active role in achieving this vision.

Posted by: Mike Haley

Mike is Chief Executive of Cifas.


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Posted by: Mike Haley

Mike is Chief Executive of Cifas.