Fraud-prevention vendor Emailage today announced that it has raised $3.8 million in a Series A round of funding, which was led by Felicis Ventures.
Emailage uses email addresses for user identity to help find potential fraud. The Emailage system is not an anti-spam platform, but rather it is an anti-fraud technology that can be leveraged by merchants and organizations to use email addresses to limit the risk of potentially fraudulent transactions.
Rei Carvalho, CEO of Emailage, explained that the basic idea behind Emailage emerged while he was running a company that manufactured hardware and software for kiosks and vending machines. Those kiosks and vending machines had customers that were swiping their credit cards to complete a transaction.
Carvalho said he was looking for a system that would help him reduce fraud with only a limited amount of information, such as just a user email. He couldn't find such a technology, so he set off to build one.
"Email is a global ID, and people use email for lots of different things," Carvalho told eWEEK.
The basic idea with Emailage is that an email address can also be used to help verify that an individual transaction is legitimate, based on a number of different factors. The Emailage system can be used by both physical retailers as well as online e-commerce merchants.
Emailage first makes sure that the email address actually exists, Carvalho said. The system then has multiple types of analysis that it performs to rank the potential risk that might be associated with the email address. "We have hundreds of different conditions we analyze," Carvalho said.
Those different conditions contribute toward a ranking score that Emailage associates to any given email. That scoring system goes from 0 to 1,000, with a 0 being the lowest and 1,000 the highest.
"Customers trust our scoring system," Carvalho said. "So we're not stopping the good guys; we're only stopping the bad guys."
Emailage runa its infrastructure in data centers located in New York and Phoenix. The current backend leverages SQL Server, though Carvalho said that the company is now moving to using the open-source Apache Cassandra NoSQL database to provide more scalability.
Emailage is also moving to use Apache Hadoop-based technologies to provide more data-mining capabilities for its email fraud-detection engine. The email analysis decision-making engine is technology that Emailage has developed on its own.
Emailage works with customers to enable an easy integration with their systems, Carvalho said. Compared with other fraud-detection mechanisms, which might require personally identifiable information, email isn't really all that personal from a privacy perspective, he added.
Emails are pervasive today and not considered a privacy risk in the same way that a Social Security number might be.
With Emailage, instead of merchants needing to send multiple pieces of information about a customer, they need only to send the customer's email in order to make the fraud decision, Carvalho said.
With the new funding in hand, Carvalho plans to continue to improve the Emailage product and grow the company's market presence in 2015 and beyond.
"We'll be looking to see how we can continue to improve our product and leverage global data to make better decisions," Carvalho said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.