PwC Retracts Published Statistic on Digital Payment Service

Apr 25, 2018

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In a story titled “Digital Payment Service Zelle is Rife with Fraud” published on April 24, TPG reprised a story based on reporting by The New York Times that examined the digital banking feature’s vulnerabilities to hackers.

TPG included a quote from an interview the Times conducted with a partner at consulting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers regarding Zelle’s fraud rate. The quote that the partner gave to the Times said one bank experienced a 90% fraud rate with Zelle transactions.

After the story was published by TPG and others, PwC released a statement saying the “90%” statistic in that quote is not accurate.

TPG reached out to PwC to see if that particular partner, Genevieve Gimbert, who leads PwC’s Financial Crimes Unit and is Head of Fraud Management Consulting, was available for comment. We also asked for further clarification regarding the erroneous quote — namely where the “90%” statistic came from and if there was an accurate statistic for Zelle’s fraud rate. A PwC spokesperson said the partner was not available to speak and referred us to the company’s statement on the matter:

In a New York Times article published this past Saturday, “Zelle, the Bank’s answer to Venmo, Proves Vulnerable to Fraud,” a PwC partner was quoted as saying, “I know of one bank that was experiencing a 90 percent fraud rate on Zelle transactions, which is insane.” 

PwC has determined the 90 percent figure is unsubstantiated. In addition, the statement could be read to incorrectly suggest that there is an issue with Zelle itself rather than merely pointing out that appropriate controls and procedures are needed by banks and other users in order to properly implement any new payment system. We recognize that most banks do have strong fraud authentication and fraud detection controls in place. 

We regret the error and take full ownership. We have contacted the New York Times to inform them the partner misspoke and to seek a correction.

Further attempts by TPG to reach the partner on social media were not successful.

A spokesperson from Zelle’s parent company Early Warning Services sent the following statement to TPG:

“Zelle® is bringing faster person-to-person payments to millions of U.S. consumers through the convenience of mobile banking apps. They are discovering that it’s a fast and easy way to send money to people they know and trust. Safe banking is a top concern, and we offer consumers multiple layers of protection, and clear processes, to investigate and remediate unauthorized transactions. Proactively, we’re educating consumers on how to avoid new and emerging payment scams. While all financial products are susceptible to an array of threats from con artists and thieves, Zelle has seen very few incidences of fraud amongst the millions of transactions processed per day. When fraud is reported, or identified, we take immediate steps with our participant banks to investigate and take action, in order to prevent further abuse.” 

Since learning that a central quote in the story was not accurate, TPG has taken the story off the site and issued this correction. We regret the error in publishing the erroneous quote and statistic.

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