Nice Actimize Fraud & Authentication Management Review

Offers robotics, machine learning, and enables us to reduce analysts


What is our primary use case?

Right now, we are using Nice Actimize for our financial transactions. I have worked on multiple solutions to enrich the latest one that I'm working on. We have our payment systems and our normal transaction monitoring systems, detecting fraud cases. Based on that, they create alerts. Those alerts are ingested into Actimize. We have our case management system in which our analysts are shown the alerts with the respective data and with all the related alert details of the customers, and based on that they will be able to decide whether it is a potential fraud transaction or it is a false positive case.

Then the analyst will decide based on the rules whether it's a fraud happening or it's a valid transaction. This is what we are doing right now. But prior to that, we also used Nice Actimize for the case management system in which you have the rules, the responsibilities, and the users. Meaning, if I'm an analyst, I will have certain access rights so I can see something. If I have a manager on top of me, he can see something more on the same alert. He can see something else. If he's a manager on a group level, maybe for America, he can see alerts from North America as well as South America. We have these units and based on that, the rules are defined and you will have a UI that will display anything for you. There was an HR case where there was an incident raised against an employee. A manual case is created which will go through all the flows for check and go to the employee. Then the HR and the employee will have a discussion. All the details will be stored in that entity that is the alert. Then based on that, there will be other steps.

If it is a case in which there is sexual harassment or something, even if the police are involved, it will be stored. The details on the outcomes will be stored there, and then they will choose what to do with that case. Whether they want to do a formal complaint against that employee, or they want to terminate him, or is it a false case that was registered against him or something like that. This is one application besides the transactions. Actimize can be used in all these ways, but mostly the purpose of Actimize was anti-money laundering and suspicious activity, on the transaction and financial side of things.

They have certain rules. For example, if I am using a credit card and my usual behavior for normal transactions is 100 Pounds to 500 Pounds in a week, but suddenly I make a transaction of more than 5,000 Pounds. It is possibly a suspicious activity indicating that somebody is trying to do something. Now somebody needs to decide whether this is actually suspicious. If I consider my case, there was an instance when I did a big transaction and I got a phone call from my credit card saying that "Is that you who did this transaction?" So somewhere, they might also be using a similar kind of a product and it helps the customers in preventing frauds from happening. This is an application of Nice.

The application itself is deployed on a server and it can be used throughout sites. So for us, it could be banks. Banks have their sites, the transactions come in, and that is just one place where it is installed and users can access it through the net. Now the latest thing that has come in, is that they also have cloud implementation. Everything will be there in the cloud. So any maintenance or upgrades will be done in one place. The clients who are using this application will not bear the costs separately. So any more data will be directly provided to them. Even the cloud interfaces are available now.

My company has a relationship with NICE Actimize as well as the client. NICE Actimize is the solution provider, the implementer, for our company, a bank. We have a business relationship with the bank as well as with NICE Actimize. NICE Actimize does not have a huge level of implementation so they do not deal directly with the banks. It is us or the other vendors or service providers who actually implement and interact with actual users. They depend on us for any new upgrades or what the client wants. It is also beneficial since the companies are pricing for each thing. So maybe our company would get something at a cheaper rate because we are providing them with insights into what the customer actually wants and what their needs will be in the future.

How has it helped my organization?

With the number of transactions that are happening, everyone has a card and all of us do some transactions, so the volume of transactions and suspicious transactions is huge. In order to go through all the transactions, you need to have a lot of analysts and a lot of manpower, and the time to decide whether it is a fraud or not a fraud is huge. By using this product, Actimize, you are able to reduce the number of analysts working on it and have all the data for the transaction, the customers, and other things involved, embedded on a single screen. 

One of the criteria which determines a fraud is the country of origin of the transaction. There are red countries or blacklist countries, and certain things like that. For example, Afghanistan would be a country wherein if a person makes a transaction of more than 10,000 USD, it is considered that it could be a potential terrorist funding or some related activity. These kinds of things you can come to know. For example, there was a feature showing where the transaction was made or the card was swiped. You would also get that on a map - there will be a small link there. If an analyst wants to see where the actual transaction was done, he can also get that information right on that particular page. So all the details are in one place which makes it easier for an analyst to decide whether it is fraud or not.

What is most valuable?

Nice Actimize's most valuable feature would be its rule engine. The core of the application is that when transactions come in, there will be a set of business users, for example, a bank, who decides what constitutes fraud. Once they decide the criteria, all the transactions check against these filters on a real-time basis. If they find something suspicious, an alert will be created and the normal life cycle of the alert is opened and then goes to the analysis and all those steps will start. 

Apart from that feature, one more thing that is good about this product is that it is not specific to a particular database. If you have an Excel sheet, you can always import that and create alerts from that. You can always connect the to Hadoop system. They have given those open-ended entities where you can click on it. It's like a plugin. You just create a small plugin and it will be able to search for data from any of the sources that are available. It is easy to use. The UI is pretty good, so it helps the analyst. Lastly, the robotics have come in. When there are a lot of alerts being generated, most of them follow certain patterns. So if we write a rule that these kinds of alerts should be directly closed or something like that, then even that can be done. Machine learning has now entered into the product. I haven't used it, but I know it is there now. People are using it.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what could be improved, one of the problems that our clients generally talk about is the price of the product when they have to purchase the product and the licenses for it. Those are on the higher side, in which case they would go ahead developing the built-in solution. Otherwise, the product is good compared to Actimize's competitors' products.

They have provided a feature wherein you can develop your own goals and targets along with it. There are some applications that will restrict you from doing something. But this application always provides you a plugin. You develop a plugin, you configure something and you can add any data. You can introduce any source. You can write to any file. You can then read reports, whether it is a PDF or something, or you can directly interact with a third party, such as a government organization wherein there is a feature like RFI, a request for information.

For example, let's consider there is a federal investigation going on and they need to have a response from a federal team. They will send out the RFI request. Once the federal team responds back on that, the response will automatically trigger an action once it is received. There are a lot of automated things and they haven't restricted anything. Even if there is a little drawback or a shortcoming, you can always create a Java code to use and just patch something in there. So in that sense, I would say that it is an open-ended product, it's not a closed environment.

I haven't had the chance to work on robotics, so I can not comment on that part. But it looks like that is something that they have developed recently. The other issue is that if you want to learn about the application itself, the training is not available as an open-source. It is restricted and you have to pay for it and get a formal certification, and only then you would be able to implement something with that. Even if you try to Google it, you won't be able to find the actual code or how to configure it and all that information.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Nice Actimize for around four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Nice Actimize is a stable product. The product, is interacting with multiple systems. We had a screen wherein we were connecting to the Hadoop environment because the number of transactions was very huge. So we could not have it in our Oracle at the same time. They were present in Hadoop and the user would connect. There was a dashboard kind of a thing in which there were internal queries to fetch data from Hadoop and display to the users.

But sometimes, due to connectivity between all the environments and the Hadoop environment itself, we would face difficulties. Basically it is the environment which may bring down the performance. But if the environment is proper and we know the volume that you are going to handle, I don't think this application goes down.

There are updates available for Actimize. If there is an upgrade, you have to purchase a license for it depending on the agreement that you have with Actimize. If you have an agreement wherein there would be a fee for the upgrade, they will give a patch and you just run it once. There will be a fee which will be there with the patch, and they will just give us the steps that we need to do, and they will just be helping us out.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, around 100 or 200 users is a normal thing for Actimize. If there are thousands of users that are going to be added, then obviously there needs to be some abbreviation done on the available resources. For example, the environment is a smaller environment, which can handle only a certain number of requests. If that is the case, then obviously Actimize won't be able to support all those.

When I say, "Won't be able to support" they would internally add load balancers and all those things would be implemented. If the docket is not able to handle a request, you will see a lag in the opening of a page or a request. But it is seldom that the application is unavailable as a whole. So the worst case would be if there is a slowness in the application. Sometimes we need to do a restart or something in the lower environments, but we do not see that in production. Because in production, all the environments are kept up to date and there are other processes checking the number of alerts and everything. So there are diagnostic functions going on. So any spike anywhere would be easily detected and a proper notification would be sent to the user.

I am speaking as a developer who would be developing stuff in Actimize. There will be other people who would be the final users of Actimize. There are approximately 200 developers throughout my organization who are developing stuff for different vendors. In terms of the users that are actually using it, it could really be in the thousands because there are big banks and financial institutions which use this product and they have their own users. So some of them would be analysts, most of them would-be managers. And based on that, they function. I could just give an approximate figure here.

This product is being used in multiple payment gateways. So even in the investment banking sector, you have Actimize being used. Basically, wherever payments and transactions are concerned, this application is used, including big banks, and the volume at which they are utilizing it would be quite huge. Because this application isn't cheap, it is quite expensive, they will only put in that kind of money if the volumes are huge. So instead of spending on people, they are spending on a product, which makes life easier because fewer people can manage it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We had one instance where we had to call NICE Actimize. There was an existing issue with their product which they were working on. At that time, they said that this would be coming in the next release. One of the features or one of the PDFs were not working. It was not a showstopper, but it was a small issue in which we had a call with them. We told them we're facing an issue and about everything we had tried, and technically they were able to help us. They also asked us to try multiple things. After that, once it was still not working, then they said that, "Let us come out with a permanent fix that we should do for the next release, and you will get a free upgrade." I would rate the technical support an eight out of 10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Initially, we used normal Java programs in which we had to develop everything from scratch. But using Nice Actimize gave us the freedom to just configure and use it. The focus is mainly not on developing, but on implementation when we use this product. Prior to this, we did not work on any tools or assets.

Unfortunately, I do not have any experience working on similar solutions. Like I mentioned, there are two other solutions that do provide a similar thing. One is Mantas and the other one is Morale. For our current client, these two systems are used to detect fraud transactions, but Actimize is used to display and for the case management. The case management part in Actimize is better than the competitive solutions.

As I mentioned earlier, this product is open-ended so you can never say "it is not possible" in Actimize. Maybe they don't give it as a solution, but you can always develop that on your end and plug it in, whereas this is not possible with other solutions. This is what I have heard. We were picking solutions for a prospective client who was interested in going into this area, and we had to give a description of all the solutions available for them to decide which one to go for. I was a part of Actimize, so I just heard the other parts as well. This was what I read.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is a running of files. There are the shell scripts and everything runs with a normal installation. There will be a team from Actimize itself. They will help us out installing the product and if there are problems, they would give the support. Once the installation is done or there are upgrades, you just click execute this file and it will do the rest all by itself.

It's pretty straightforward.

The deployment and installation of the product would take around a week. A week in the sense that it will be around a couple of days, and then there will be certain checks done, whether everything is working fine or not. Once the environment is ready there can be different solutions that you can deploy or create.

Once the Actimize environment is there you can create your own. Whether you want to do a case monitoring on a transaction, or you want to do something related to HR or any other thing that is configured. That is something that you develop. Basically, it is like your Java. So you have the Java environment installed, then you can do anything on that.

Installation of Java would take a maximum of an hour or so. Setting up your parts and everything. Similarly for this, it will have to take day or two for the Actimize team to analyze whether everything has been set up properly. They will probably give a week of time wherein they would say that the environment is ready for you to use. In case of any issues, like the environment is going down or there are some upgrade that was not present, they will be responsible.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I'm actually not sure about this as this would be done on a client-to-company basis. Most probably it is on a yearly basis or a bi-yearly basis. Or it could also be greater than that because if a big bank is going to put money into some solution, they won't be doing it for a shorter period. They would like to carry it on for a longer period. I do not have an exact idea of this.

What Actimize has done with the standard license is to give the amount of flexibility you can have and the type of solution you want and has customized the pricing based on that. If you only want an AML solution, you will be charged separately. If you only want an activity monitoring solution, you will be charged separately. Or if you want a custom solution, you will be charged separately. If you want a custom solution as well as something you want to develop and use as plugins, then it will have different pricing altogether. So they have divided the pricing based on that.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend this solution to other users. From a developer perspective, it's easy for me to implement any new change. If we consider the cases of the requests or what we want as a financial institution, they change rapidly. The markets change and the rules change, regulations change. Implementation must be quick. It is easier to optimize. This is from a developer's perspective. From a user's perspective, you can actually make a change in your application on the fly, which will make you better than your competitor banks or financial institutions, which will affect your customers' profits because it is a service you are giving to a client, which in turn gives their services to the customer.

If you are giving our services to a bank, they would be customers for the bank, which would benefit them. If the bank is going to meet the changes quickly, if there is a new method of payment or something that can be included faster from a bank's perspective, that is a consideration. So definitely on the bank side, as well as the development side, I would recommend this to people who are considering this solution.

As a developer, we used to develop everything from scratch and stayed more time in a building, with the same stuff over and over again. But after using this product, rather than recreating the same thing, or reinventing the wheel, you can always make use of the existing things. I see something more quickly. You can implement things more quickly rather than spending your effort on things that don't matter at the end of the day.

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Nice Actimize Fraud & Authentication Management a nine. Just keeping one point for the scope of improvement.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Implementer
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