As Cyberattacks Cause $12bn in Losses, Financial Experts Sound Alarm on Rising Threats

Amidst escalating cyber threats targeting financial institutions, industry experts are calling for innovative solutions to enhance confidence in bank transactions. This pressing issue was the focus of the 2024 Quarter II Industry Forum organized by the Committee of E-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH), themed “Cybercrime: Enhancing Consumer Trust and Security with Artificial Intelligence”.

Concerns over the rising frequency of cyberattacks have been underscored by significant financial losses. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), $12 billion was lost to cybercrime over a 20-year period, while Nigerian banks alone suffered losses amounting to N10 billion in the first quarter of 2023, as reported by the Mastercard Foundation.

During the forum, Afolabi Solebo, General Manager of the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA), highlighted the increasing sophistication of cyber threats and emphasized the urgent need for innovative solutions to protect consumers and bolster their confidence in banking transactions.

“Cybercrime is evolving at an unprecedented rate, posing significant risks to consumers, especially in the digital banking sector. To effectively combat these threats, we must leverage advanced technologies like AI to safeguard consumer interests,” Solebo stated. He stressed the importance of transparency and education in building consumer confidence in AI-driven security solutions. “Consumers need to understand how AI works to protect their data. This involves clear communication from financial institutions about the benefits and safeguards associated with AI technologies. By demystifying AI and demonstrating its effectiveness, we can foster a higher level of trust among users.”

Solebo also called for increased collaboration among financial institutions, technology providers, and regulatory bodies to create a robust cybersecurity framework. He noted that collective efforts are essential in developing and implementing standards that ensure the safe and ethical use of AI in digital banking.

Mrs. Celestina Appeal, Chairman of CeBIH, emphasized the forum’s role in uniting top electronic industry practitioners and stakeholders from Nigerian banks to discuss critical industry topics and enhance the safety of digital payment systems. “The increasing rate of cybercrime could be life-threatening, cutting across various methods such as phishing, data breaches, ransomware, and identity theft. Hence, it is imperative for all concerned parties to collaborate to protect the integrity of the financial space by leveraging available tools,” she said.

In his presentation, Mr. Obi Ebuka, CEO of Autogon AI, highlighted the transformative potential of AI in cybersecurity practices. “AI-driven systems can analyze vast amounts of data quickly, identifying unusual patterns and potential threats before they can cause harm,” he explained. Ebuka emphasized that AI offers real-time threat detection and adaptive security measures that surpass traditional methods.

The forum underscored the critical need for advanced technological solutions and collaborative efforts to address the escalating cyber threats facing the banking sector. By leveraging AI and fostering transparency, financial institutions can enhance consumer trust and ensure the integrity of digital banking services.

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