ACI Achieves 100% Uptime with DataStax

Using DataStax Enterprise (DSE), ACI’s fraud prevention platform can process transactions quickly and securely while using the transaction data to add to its growing machine learning algorithm and intelligence, with no worry of downtime, and with the assurance of easy scalability during high-traffic seasons.

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3% Improvement in false positive and fraud detection rate

100% Uptime to ensure customers’ systems keep running during high traffic periods

Millions of customer dollars saved via better fraud detection

A global leader in payment systems software, Florida-based ACI Worldwide, Inc. powers electronic payments and banking for over 5,100 organizations around the world, including 18 of the world’s 20 largest banks and more than 300 of the world’s largest retailers.

The Challenge

ACI’s solutions are used globally by banks, merchants, intermediaries, and corporates, and offer a wide range of transaction-generating endpoints, including ATMs, merchant point of sale (POS) terminals, bank branches, mobile phones, tablets, and eCommerce sites. The “Universal Payments” company, ACI is unique in its ability to offer software for every aspect of a payment flow. From online payments to wholesale banking to fraud detection to queries and settlements, ACI offers integrated solutions using the wide variety of data services it’s created over its 40-year history.

ACI handles fraud prevention for payment organizations worldwide via its payments risk management platform. ACI knows that whenever a transaction is occurring—whether it’s a consumer transaction, a business transaction, or an internal bank transaction—it’s susceptible to fraud. Hence, any time finances are being moved from point A to point B, ACI recommends the transaction go through some kind of fraud detection layer. ACI’s powerful fraud detection solution acts as this key layer and can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

With the amount of eCommerce transactions increasing rapidly—in general, but in particular during the holiday shopping season—the number of transaction-related fraud attempts has also surged. In recent years, while eCommerce transactions have grown by 19%, the fraud attempts on those transactions increased by 22%. A few years ago, one of every 109 transactions was a fraud attempt, compared to one out of every 85 today. Due to this alarming increase in both transactions and fraud attempts, ACI sought a powerful, flexible database that could manage massive amounts of transactional data in real time and mine it for mission-critical payments insights. The desired database needed to be horizontally scalable to be able to handle the massive transaction volatility that comes with seasonal surges like tax season and holiday shopping.

“We can see the trend of fraud is increasing, and when we combine that with the increasing rate of transactions, and the variability in the data, we very quickly get to a situation where we have to process larger amounts of data, larger numbers of transactions, and utilize more complicated algorithms to determine whether or not a transaction is legitimate,” said Ken Chenis, Chief Architect at ACI Worldwide.

The Solution

ACI’s software is so ubiquitous it’s safe to say that nearly every electronic payment, credit card, or debit card swipe involves its systems in some way. This is a huge responsibility; but it’s also a big opportunity to use this incredible wealth of data to make every transaction, no matter where or how it’s done, a safe and fast transaction that also adds to ACI’s powerful payments intelligence capabilities.

For ACI, which was also evolving the way it integrates machine learning and predictive analytics into its fraud protection solution, finding the right database required a lot of research and analysis.

One of the key aspects of ACI’s solution is its multi-cloud flexibility, which required a database that could not only support hybrid and/or multi-cloud environments, but was also easily scalable and capable of managing modern applications that were contextual, distributed, always on, and “right now.” A key point, and perhaps most importantly: any database utilized by ACI needed to be futureproof in the sense that it would allow ACI to quickly apply what it’s learning from its massive data intake to create new and innovative products and proofs of concept around transaction processing.

ACI reviewed several vendors, and after several proof of concepts, the company selected DataStax Enterprise (DSE), the only active-everywhere database built on Apache CassandraTM and designed for hybrid cloud. In DSE, ACI saw a high-performance database that could not only process transactions at a very fast rate, but also support its horizontally scalable and highly performant complex event processing (CEP) engine, which deconstructs every element of a transaction—from the ATM machine used to the demographics of the person making the charge to the type of charge—to determine if it’s legitimate or potentially fraudulent.

DSE also works in conjunction with ACI’s batch analytics engine and provides the ability to expand the use of its data management system for other valuable use cases, such as loyalty and rewards, while providing for rapid innovation and shorter feature time to market. “Implementing the solution on DSE has been one of the easier technology adoptions for us; things worked the way they should,” Chenis said.

The DataStax Enterprise environment is a horizontally scalable data environment, so as the demands on that environment increase, we simply add more nodes to the cluster and that continues to expand the capabilities. All of this can be done with zero downtime. That is a really key capability.

Ken Chenis
Chief Architect at ACI Worldwide

The Results

The goal of ACI’s payments intelligence platform is to allow vendors to determine if a transaction is fraudulent or not, without actually bothering the customer, and that’s exactly what DSE has allowed the platform to do. Using DSE, ACI’s fraud prevention platform can process transactions quickly and securely while using the transaction data to add to its growing machine learning algorithm and intelligence, with no worry of downtime, and with the assurance of easy scalability during high-traffic seasons.

Combining big data with real-time decision-making, ACI has used DSE to empower its fraud analysts with the potent combo of granular data and “the big picture” of what’s going on. This, in turn, allows them to innovate at a much faster pace than before and to turn small innovations into proofs of concept that sometimes become major product breakthroughs.

The new, DataStax-backed solution is saving customers millions of dollars and has improved both the fraud detection rate and the false positive rate. And that’s just the beginning. “The fraud risk use case is really just a starting point for these innovations,” Chenis said. “But, ACI is already looking at other opportunities to use this platform because the data is extremely rich. It has information across a wide variety of services, a wide variety of demographics, a wide variety of customers using all kinds of different onramps and off-ramps. It gets collected together in one common repository and that information is very powerful for meta use cases.”

ACI Worldwide, Inc.
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