Angel Grant describes herself as “Defender of the Digital Universe.” RSA, the organization she works for, refers to her as Director, Fraud and Risk Intelligence. Her son just tells his friends his mom “stops the bad guys.” Whatever her title, she is a true superhero, working hard to “act faster than the speed of fraud.”
A visionary leader, Ms. Grant is fascinated by the cybercrime underground and has made it her mission to understand the ways in which fraudsters manipulate vulnerabilities in the system. Her goal is to help organizations thrive in this uncertain, high-risk world by connecting insights into today’s risks associated with payment transactions.
NEACH recently sat down with Ms. Grant to discuss her thoughts on security and the financial services industry:
NEACH: How did you get involved in financial services?
ANGEL: I joined the financial services world while I was still in college, originating mortgages. I then moved into online banking and payments, and finally into security. While working in payments, I helped design one of the first ACH cash management applications in the market. At that time online banking was still in its infancy.
When we went to banks to sell our online applications, many of them pushed back, saying they didn’t think this online banking thing would take off. I was fortunate to get in on the online banking word in its early stages and help the ACH Network Thrive.
NEACH: If we were to call you an early adopter, what product or service offering would I be describing?
ANGEL: I prefer to think of it more as an early innovator than an early adopter. RSA was involved with pushing out some of the earliest, risk-based payments authentication technologies to the payments market. We’ve been doing this now for well over a decade.
NEACH: What is the biggest payments opportunity for financial institutions? Businesses?
ANGEL: Two things stand out to me:
First, financial institutions need to really think about how to differentiate themselves, keeping themselves relevant and looking modern and innovative.
Consider establishing partnerships to provide value—added services, working with aggregators to create loyalty programs and establishing those partnerships to drive more and different services. Then, financial institutions would become the “owner” of that user, developing an omni-channel experience.
Second, I believe organizations can begin using security as a product differentiator. Because so many individuals have been impacted by identity theft in their personal life, it’s now a top of mind thing.
NEACH: What business topics keep you up at night?
ANGEL: My whole world focuses around defending the digital universe. We need to figure out how to act faster than the speed of fraud.
NEACH: How do you engage with us?
ANGEL: We engage with NEACH in a couple of different fronts. Right now, it’ s about learning what’s going on in the payments world and understanding new rules and their impact on the payments infrastructure. NEACH is a great resource for learning and understanding market dynamics.
NEACH: What do you think others don’t know about our organization?
ANGEL: I recently attended one of NEACH’s meetings, and it was very clearly to me that theirs is a group of extremely like-minded individuals focused on the same cause. Despite people working for competing organizations in some cases, they engaged as peers, wanting to learn from each other and determine how they could improve the overall payments landscape. It really is a tight-knit community of people.
NEACH: What’s your favorite book? Why?
ANGEL: Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by Edward O. Wilson. What I like about it was this book focuses on how to unite science and humanity and the importance of synthesizing and converging knowledge from independent areas. We’re seeing this play out today in the payments and security worlds. It’s exciting to see.