The threat from online and mobile fraud is growing in Asia-Pacific, with digital financial services firms in China, Hong Kong, and Indonesia now among the least trusted by consumers, according to new findings from top information services firm, Experian.

But the rising threat has at least prompted more than half of the region’s financial services firms to increase their investment in the latest technology needed to tackle the challenge, such as real-time fraud detection and digital security systems.

The Dublin-based but London-listed firm’s 2017 Fraud Management Insights Report, released on Wednesday, says companies across the region are seeing the scale and variety of fraud growing into 2018.

It lists five top types to look out for this year: online, credit and debit card frauds, malware (malicious software) affecting online and mobile transactions, and identity fraud.

The report surveyed 3,200 consumers across 80 organisations from the financial services, telecoms and retail sectors, each with revenues of at least US$10 million. Thirty eight financial services companies from China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and other APAC countries took part in the study.

Fraud cases were most commonly reported during retail banking activities , especially when customers used their cards, the report said, but instances also grew in the consumer tech, digital-only, telecoms, and airline sectors.

“Financial services companies are focusing on real-time detection of fraud because they are on the frontline of attacks and realise it is no longer enough to mitigate incidents only after they happen,” said Mohan Jayaraman, Experian Asia-Pacific’s regional managing director for decision analytics and business information.

The study also examined trust levels of digital financial services offered across the region, and revealed New Zealand, Japan and Australia had the highest readings among customers, with Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia registering “below-industry average” trust levels.

The industry average was 4.95 out of 10 for the financial services sector, according to Experian’s specially created Digital Trust Index, which gauges trust levels among customers.

China and Hong Kong scored just 3.87 and 3.80, respectively, ranking them sixth and seventh of the region’s 10 countries under review. Indonesia had the lowest score (2.9) with New Zealand top with 8.01.

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To tackle the challenges presented by growing instances of fraud, 59 per cent of the region’s financial services companies said the focus of their investments are now going on strengthening their real-time fraud detection capabilities.

That rise in awareness is driving more companies to invest in “quality data” which lets them fully understand their customers’ needs.

It said that gaining popularity is a method called the “single customer view” – a marketing and sales concept that sees organisations store and consolidate their customer data, to allow them to get to know them better and customise their services to suit individuals.

But 39 per cent of companies polled admitted they lacked an efficient overall data management strategy, meaning they still had problems gathering sufficient data.

“Only when companies improve their data quality and implement a ‘Single Customer View’, will they be able to improve their business results,” said Jayaraman.