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Ben covers the property industry and has a keen interest in entrepreneurship and travel writing. He speaks Mandarin and previously covered housing and urban affairs for The Australian Financial Review.

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Pocketbook app may spot fraud

Published 28 October 2013 11:36, Updated 29 October 2013 04:40

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Pocketbook app may spot fraud

Bosco Tan and Alvin Singh, co-founders of personal banking app Pocketbook.

Fresh out of a successful fund-raising round, the co-founders of money management start-up, Pocketbook, have discovered another use for their smart phone app: spotting fraud.

When a Pocketbook user raised a strange transaction from an entity called F.F.G Holding Pty Ltd, Pocketbook co-founders Bosco Tan and Alvin Singh searched user accounts across multiple banks and spotted a pattern.

They found at least five cases where the F.F.G Holding company, with minor variants in its name, was charging various amounts at odd times of the day.

An Australian Securities and Investment Commission search found F.F.G had been de-registered with the corporate regulator since 2011.

The incidents appeared to follow a taxi ride where the driver claimed electronic payments were not available and a manual swipe machine was used.

“Our position isn’t necessarily to make a call on these things but bring to light potential cases,” said Mr Tan.

Pocketbook just closed a seed funding round with Tankstream Ventures, having almost quadrupled its user base since March to approximately 40,000 users.

Tan and Singh were in Dubai last month pitching their product to bankers at the SIBOS banking conference.

Pocketbook requires users to hand over their account details. Not everyone is comfortable with this, but the transparency this brings has its benefits. Pocketbook syncs with various bank accounts across different institutions allowing users to keep track of what they spend, get a real-time update on their net finance position, and manage bills and other expenses.

While banks themselves have sophisticated fraud-spotting operations, Mr Tan says Pocketbook has the advantage of having a view over multiple accounts and institutions.

“Because we are so in touch with how our customers react to certain things, we can respond quickly to customer feedback,” Mr Tan says.

“If one experiences something, we can look across all our customers, figure out if it’s systemic and warn people about it.”

Pocketbook also notifies users when they cop a big bank fee, whereas the bank itself might not be so forward, Mr Tan said.

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