Atlanta Fed Partners with Georgia State University to Address Financial Fraud

For immediate release: June 30, 2021

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Georgia State University announce a partnership focused on finding solutions to online payments-related financial fraud. The effort will involve surveillance of the darknet and encrypted web channels to better understand how online payments-related criminal activities affect the payments landscape and promote safer, more-efficient payment solutions and practices.

Payment innovations such as digital wallets, mobile payments, and person-to-person payment apps offer convenience, but also expose users to new types of fraud. Bad actors can steal identity components like social security numbers, addresses, authentication credentials, and account details, then sell them through markets hosted on encrypted web channels. This creates far-reaching harm across the financial system and broader economy.

"This partnership with Georgia State University will help the Federal Reserve System and the entire payments industry understand fraud from a different perspective and lead to better solutions and operational practices around payments innovation," said Cheryl Venable, Atlanta Fed executive vice president and retail payments product manager for the Federal Reserve System. "The effort will capitalize on, as well as advance, the Atlanta Fed's expertise as a payment network operator, supervisor and researcher."

Georgia State University's Evidence-Based Cybersecurity (EBCS) Research GroupOff-site link at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies uses behavioral science and innovations like machine learning to research, document, and minimize cyber harm. Collaborating with Federal Reserve payments experts, EBCS researchers and PhD students will monitor online criminal markets for payments-related activity to document trends, identify new types of fraud, and support a better understanding of crimes surrounding new payment types. Findings will be shared within the Federal Reserve System and with the payments industry.

"We expect this partnership to have a huge impact on the safety of online banking as our research will help identify issues regarding online payments and online fraud," said David Maimon, director of Georgia State's ECBS. "It speaks volumes that the Federal Reserve has turned to the cutting-edge research we conduct in the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Center to help guide policy regarding online fraud prevention and mitigation in the financial industry."

The partnership will attempt to identify the impacts of the introduction of digital assets such as central bank digital currenciesOff-site link to online criminal markets in other countries. The initial agreement will be active for three years, when a joint determination will be made about extending the work.

The partnership advances the Atlanta Fed's strategy to promote safer payments innovation by using tactics such as collaborating with academic institutions to conduct joint research and experiments. Additional information about the partnership and future updates can be found on the Promoting Safer Payments Innovations section of the Atlanta Fed website.

Contact: Monique Broughton Knight | 470-249-8348