Tag Archives: Mobile App Development

Battling Impersonation Scams: Monzo’s Innovative Approach

Posted by Todd Burner – Developer Relations Engineer

Cybercriminals continue to invest in advanced financial fraud scams, costing consumers more than $1 trillion in losses. According to the 2023 Global State of Scams Report by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance, 78 percent of mobile users surveyed experienced at least one scam in the last year. Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they’re experiencing more scams in the last 12 months.


The Global Scam Report also found that phone calls are the top method to initiate a scam. Scammers frequently employ social engineering tactics to deceive mobile users.

The key place these scammers want individuals to take action are in the tools that give access to their money. This means financial services are frequently targeted. As cybercriminals push forward with more scams, and their reach extends globally, it’s important to innovate in the response.

One such innovator is Monzo, who have been able to tackle scam calls through a unique impersonation detection feature in their app.

Monzo’s Innovative Approach

Founded in 2015, Monzo is the largest digital bank in the UK with presence in the US as well. Their mission is to make money work for everyone with an ambition to become the one app customers turn to to manage their entire financial lives.

Monzo logo

Impersonation fraud is an issue that the entire industry is grappling with and Monzo decided to take action and introduce an industry-first tool. An impersonation scam is a very common social engineering tactic when a criminal pretends to be someone else so they can encourage you to send them money. These scams often involve using urgent pretenses that involve a risk to a user’s finances or an opportunity for quick wealth. With this pressure, fraudsters convince users to disable security safeguards and ignore proactive warnings for potential malware, scams, and phishing.

Call Status Feature

Android offers multiple layers of spam and phishing protection for users including call ID and spam protection in the Phone by Google app. Monzo’s team wanted to enhance that protection by leveraging their in-house telephone systems. By integrating with their mobile application infrastructure they could help their customers confirm in real time when they’re actually talking to a member of Monzo’s customer support team in a privacy preserving way.

If someone calls a Monzo customer stating they are from the bank, their users can go into the app to verify this. In the Monzo app’s Privacy & Security section, users can see the ‘Monzo Call Status’, letting them know if there is an active call ongoing with an actual Monzo team member.

“We’ve built this industry-first feature using our world-class tech to provide an additional layer of comfort and security. Our hope is that this could stop instances of impersonation scams for Monzo customers from happening in the first place and impacting customers.” 

- Priyesh Patel, Senior Staff Engineer, Monzo’s Security team

Keeping Customers Informed

If a user is not talking to a member of Monzo’s customer support team they will see that as well as some helpful information. If the ‘Monzo call status’ is showing that you are not speaking to Monzo, the call status feature tells you to hang up right away and report it to their team. Their customers can start a scam report directly from the call status feature in the app.

screen grab of Monzo call status alerting the customer that the call the customer is receiving is not coming from Monzo. The customer is being advised to end the call

If a genuine call is ongoing the customer will see the information.

screen grab of Monzo call status confirming to the customer that the call the customer is receiving is coming from Monzo.

How does it work?

Monzo has integrated a few systems together to help inform their customers. A cross functional team was put together to build a solution.

Monzo’s in-house technology stack meant that the systems that power their app and customer service phone calls can easily communicate with one another. This allowed them to link the two and share details of customer service calls with their app, accurately and in real-time.

The team then worked to identify edge cases, like when the user is offline. In this situation Monzo recommends that customers don’t speak to anyone claiming they’re from Monzo until you’re connected to the internet again and can check the call status within the app.

screen grab of Monzo call status displaying warning while the customer is offline letting the customer know the app is unable to verify whether or not the call is coming from Monzo, so it is safer not to answer.

Results and Next Steps

The feature has proven highly effective in safeguarding customers, and received universal praise from industry experts and consumer champions.

“Since we launched Call Status, we receive an average of around 700 reports of suspected fraud from our customers through the feature per month. Now that it’s live and helping protect customers, we’re always looking for ways to improve Call Status - like making it more visible and easier to find if you’re on a call and you want to quickly check that who you’re speaking to is who they say they are.” 

- Priyesh Patel, Senior Staff Engineer, Monzo’s Security team

Final Advice

Monzo continues to invest and innovate in fraud prevention. The call status feature brings together both technological innovation and customer education to achieve its success, and gives their customers a way to catch scammers in action.

A layered security approach is a great way to protect users. Android and Google Play provide layers like app sandboxing, Google Play Protect, and privacy preserving permissions, and Monzo has built an additional one in a privacy-preserving way.

To learn more about Android and Play’s protections and to further protect your app check out these resources:

Launching Flutter 1.2 at Mobile World Congress

Posted by the Flutter team

The Flutter team is coming to you live this week from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the largest annual gathering of the mobile technology industry. One year ago, we announced the first beta of Flutter at this same event, and since then Flutter has grown faster than we could have imagined. So it seems fitting that we celebrate this anniversary occasion with our first stable update release for Flutter.

Flutter 1.2

Flutter 1.2 is the first feature update for Flutter. We've focused this release on a few major areas:

  • Improved stability, performance and quality of the core framework.
  • Work to polish visual finish and functionality of existing widgets.
  • New web-based tooling for developers building Flutter applications.

Having shipped Flutter 1.0, we focused a good deal of energy in the last couple of months on improving our testing and code infrastructure, clearing a backlog of pull requests, and improving performance and quality of the overall framework. We have a comprehensive list of these requests in the Flutter wiki for those who are interested in the specifics. This work also included broader support for new UI languages such as Swahili.

We continue to make improvements to both the Material and Cupertino widget sets, to support more flexible usage of Material and continue to strive towards pixel-perfect fidelity on iOS. The latter work includes support for floating cursor text editing, as well as showing continued attention to minor details (for example, we updated the way the text editing cursor paints on iOS for a faithful representation of the animation and painting order). We added support for a broader set of animation easing functions, inspired by the work of Robert Penner. And we added support for new keyboard events and mouse hover support, in preparation for deeper support for desktop-class operating systems.

The plug-in team has also been busy in Flutter 1.2, with work well underway to support in-app purchases, as well as many bug fixes for video player, webview, and maps. And thanks to a pull request contributed by a developer from Intuit, we now have support for Android App Bundles, a new packaging format that helps in reducing app size and enables new features like dynamic delivery for Android apps.

Lastly, Flutter 1.2 includes the Dart 2.2 SDK, an update that brings significant performance improvements to compiled code along with new language support for initializing sets. For more information on this work, you can read the Dart 2.2 announcement.

(As an aside, some might wonder why this release is numbered 1.2. Our goal is to ship a 1.x release to the 'beta' channel on about a monthly basis, and to release an update approximately every quarter to the 'stable' channel that is ready for production usage. Our 1.1 last month was a beta release, and so 1.2 is therefore our first stable release.)

New Tools for Flutter Developers

Mobile developers come from a variety of backgrounds and often prefer different programming tools and editors. Flutter itself supports different tools, including first-class support for Android Studio and Visual Studio Code as well as support for building apps from the command line, so we knew we needed flexibility in how we expose debugging and runtime inspection tools.

Alongside Flutter 1.2, we're delighted to preview a new web-based suite of programming tools to help Flutter developers debug and analyze their apps. These tools are now available for installation alongside the extensions and add-ins for Visual Studio Code and Android Studio, and offer a number of capabilities:

  • A widget inspector, which enables visualization and exploration of the tree hierarchy that Flutter uses for rendering.
  • A timeline view that helps you diagnose your application at a frame-by-frame level, identifying rendering and computational work that may cause animation 'jank' in your apps.
  • A full source-level debugger that lets you step through code, set breakpoints and investigate the call stack.
  • A logging view that shows activity you log from your application as well as network, framework and garbage collection events.

We plan to invest further in this new web-based tooling for both Flutter and Dart developers and, as integration for web-based experiences improves, we plan to build these services directly into tools like Visual Studio Code.

What's next for Flutter?

In addition to the engineering work, we took some time after Flutter 1.0 to document our 2019 roadmap, and you'll see that we've got plenty of work ahead of us.

A big focus for 2019 is growing Flutter beyond mobile platforms. At Flutter Live, we announced a project codenamed "Hummingbird", which brings Flutter to the web, and we plan to share a technical preview in the coming months. In addition, we continue to work on bringing Flutter to desktop-class devices; this requires work both at the framework level as described above, as well as the ability to package and deploy applications for operating systems like Windows and Mac, in which we're investing through our Flutter Desktop Embedding project.

Flutter Create: what can you do with 5K of Dart?

This week, we're also excited to launch Flutter Create, a contest that challenges you to build something interesting, inspiring, and beautiful with Flutter using five kilobytes or less of Dart code. 5K isn't a lot -- for a typical MP3 file, it's about a third of a second of music -- but we're betting you can amaze us with what you can achieve in Flutter with such a small amount of code.

The contest runs until April 7th, so you've got a few weeks to build something cool. We have some great prizes, including a fully-loaded iMac Pro developer workstation with a 14-core processor and 128GB of memory that is worth over $10,000! We'll be announcing the winners at Google I/O, where we'll have a number of Flutter talks, codelabs and activities.

In closing

Flutter is now one of the top 20 software repos on Github, and the worldwide community grows with every passing month. Between meetups in Chennai, India, articles from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, apps from Copenhagen, Denmark and incubation studios in New York City, USA, it's clear that Flutter continues to become a worldwide phenomenon, thanks to you. You can see Flutter in apps that have hundreds of millions of users, and in apps from entrepreneurs who are bringing their first idea to market. It's exciting to see the range of ideas you have, and we hope that we can help you express them with Flutter.

Attendees of a Flutter deep dive at Technozzare, SRM University.

Finally, we've recently launched a YouTube channel exclusively dedicated to Flutter. Be sure to subscribe at flutter.dev/youtube for shows including the Boring Flutter Development Show, Widget of the Week, and Flutter in Focus. You'll also find a new case study from Dream11, a popular Indian fantasy sports site, as well as other Developer Stories. See you there!

How Using Firebase Can Help You Earn More

Are you a developer building the next great app? Do you wish you could better analyze your app and its users, so you can monetize without compromising the overall user experience? If so, you’re at the right place!

Not only can these questions be addressed simultaneously, but there is already a solution in place: Firebase. Firebase can help you build your app, understand and grow your user base, and link with AdMob to help you better monetize.

Developing your app

Firebase can provide a Realtime Database, Authentication, Cloud Messaging, Storage, Hosting and Crash Reporting to aid you in developing your app. Forget about infrastructure - you can focus on building your masterpiece and leave the operations to Firebase.

Analyze your audience

At the heart of Firebase is a 100% free analytics solution built specifically mobile apps. With unlimited reporting on up to 500 distinct events, you can set up multiple measurements to know exactly what your users are doing in your app, how they’re engaging with your app, and what they love most about your app. With this data, you can focus your efforts to drill down and sustain the best features of your app, while at the same time improve newly surfaced areas of needs.

Grow your audience

After you’ve launched your app, Firebase can help you grow and re-engage users with powerful growth features. Using Firebase Notifications console you can re-engage users, run marketing campaigns, and target messages to Audiences in Firebase Analytics. Dynamic Links can survive the app install process and take users to relevant content whether they're a brand-new user or a longtime customer. There is also the Firebase Invites feature, an out-of-the-box solution for app referrals and sharing, which lets your existing users easily share your app, or their favorite in-app content, via email or SMS. Finally, Firebase can also track your AdWords app installs and report lifetime value to the Firebase Analytics dashboard and Firebase Audiences can also be used in AdWords to re-engage specific groups of users. For example In-app events can be defined as conversions in AdWords, to automatically optimize your ads, including universal app campaigns.

Monetize your product

With AdMob by Google, Firebase can also help you monetize your app by linking your Firebase Analytics with monetization. By combining these two products, you gain deep insights into usage data, which you can then use to optimize your user experience and monetize your app. Do your users have trouble progressing past certain levels? Help them progress with Rewarded Video. Are certain users spending all day endlessly scrolling through your content? Help them discover other cool apps with Native Express. Do a few users spend heavily on your IAPs and you want to keep their experience ad free? Segment them with Firebase, and exclude them from the ad experience.

Want to learn more? 

Check out the above video, where Andrew Brogden, Mobile Ads Developer Relations and David East, Developer Advocate, walk you through what benefits there are to using AdMob and Firebase together, and how to get your Android and iOS projects set up with both SDKs.

Ready to start exploring the true power of Firebase and AdMob? Sign up for a Firebase account and an AdMob account and link the two accounts.

Stay tuned for our next blog on Firebase in the coming weeks, where we will deep dive even further on user behavior analytics (of which you now have deep insights thanks to Firebase) and how this can help you increase those 5-star reviews!

Until next time, be sure to stay connected on all things AdMob by following our Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages.

Posted by Alex Fan, Business Development Executive, Mobile Partnerships.

Source: Inside AdMob