case study

How C2FO Is Building a Data-Driven Risk & Compliance Program Using Unit21


C2FO (which stands for “Collaborative Cash Flow Optimization”) is the world’s on-demand working capital platform. The company’s primary mission is to ensure all businesses have the capital needed to thrive. Since its first transaction in March 2010, the company has accelerated more than $220 billion in funding in 42 different currencies. C2FO customer invoices are paid early by an average of 31.7 days.

While C2FO has several offerings, the company needed a Transaction Monitoring and Case Management solution specifically for its prepaid corporate card offering.

We sat down with C2FO’s Senior Manager of Card Operations, Philip Bess, who oversees risk and compliance for C2FO’s card product, to better understand how C2FO uses Unit21 for transaction monitoring and case management.

"We needed a dynamic, user-friendly, and flexible infrastructure that can be adjusted without the direct input of engineering resources, like Unit21’s."

Philip Bess
Senior Manager of Card Operations at C2FO

60% of companies don’t get adequate engineering help to maintain fraud and AML solutions. With Unit21, Risk & Compliance teams can catch fraud and money laundering activity without writing a single line of code.


C2FO’s main challenges in risk and compliance were around its new card product; Phil noted that card transactional data can be difficult to work with.

“The card authorization and settlement process is varied and complex, and raw data files from our payment gateway require significant transformation to serve our purpose. We really needed a slick UI that would allow that data to come to life for us and provide the ability to analyze and draw meaningful conclusions from it. 

So, a dynamic, user-friendly, and flexible infrastructure that can be adjusted without the direct input of engineering resources, like Unit21’s, is exactly what we needed. They’ve helped us meet the challenge of handling the fairly archaic data structures prevalent in most card  gateways.” 

As Phil went through the process of evaluating vendors, he found that they would present proof of concept demonstrations claiming to be able to extract the data in a meaningful way. But, when the rubber hit the road, they were far less compelling and didn’t address the challenges C2FO needed to solve. 

Ultimately, C2FO was looking for a way to easily and quickly uncover and analyze its data, which it found in Unit21.

“One thing I love about Unit21 is the relational database nature of the product. In other solutions, you can’t typically see a true 360-degree view of the user like you can in Unit21. The way that entities (users or businesses), events and transactions are connected (and further, the way Unit21 surfaces this information on the dashboard) makes it much easier to have confidence during alert reviews.

This is because an alert in Unit21 can provide context into whether the activity that is currently being reviewed is in line with prior activity patterns for that particular user or group.”

How C2FO Has Reduced Its Reliance on Engineers Using Unit21

C2FO met with many vendors, but ultimately, Phil stated that the data component, combined with the ability to make changes without requiring engineering resources, was key to the decision to implement Unit21. 

“We have a strong engineering team here at C2FO. Despite that deep bench, engineering hours are precious and deployed to solve the biggest risks and threats to the business. As a risk and compliance professional, you always have to get in there and fight for those hours,” Phil said. 

”Having a system that we can adjust without needing to explain it to our engineers and use up their time and bandwidth is an absolute necessity.” 

At Unit21, we've heard this story before. In fact, according to our State of Fraud and AML Report, 60% of companies don’t get adequate engineering time dedicated to maintaining their fraud and anti-money laundering (AML) solutions.

The ability to update and test rules without the help of engineers saves C2FO valuable resources that can be dedicated to other pressing business needs.

”Having a system that we can adjust without needing to explain it to our engineers and use up their time and bandwidth is an absolute necessity.” 

Philip Bess
Senior Manager of Card Operations at C2FO

How C2FO Utilizes Unit21 for Data Monitoring

After an initial phase of implementing Unit21 and setting up its first detection models, C2FO is now focused on understanding how it can add logic to its models to ultimately be more successful in de-risking its program. 

Phil admits that C2FO has only scratched the surface in the short time it has had its initial set of models live. C2FO has been able to experiment and iterate in promising ways. Unit21 allows the company to run rules against its historical data and deploy rules in shadow mode (a feature that allows teams to run rules behind the scenes using dynamically generated data before making them live).

“Running rules against our historical data is invaluable for us because we can easily establish parameters that will produce a population of alerts that are both manageable and meaningful. Also, the ability to put rules in shadow mode is another powerful tool to ensure that when you're going live with the detection model, you're doing so confidently. The ability to iterate is one of my favorite things about the platform,” he said. 

The Impacts and Results

When asked about the impact Phil has seen using Unit21, he indicated that having a deeper understanding of transactions and how C2FO’s customers plan to use the card was key. 

He explained that C2FO has a rigorous philosophy surrounding data security. While this is critical for several obvious reasons, it can also be limiting because it is difficult for the team to get a holistic view of information. Because of this, he mentioned going through several tables and references to get a full picture of certain essential data sets.

“Having Unit21 as an easy system to export user, business or transaction records has been really helpful,” he mentioned. “Beyond the fact that it's nice having the capacity to provide very quick, precise feedback internally, especially since we're very much in the midst of building onto and adding to our product, the reporting flexibility has been a major selling point.”

On a different note, Phil described how C2FO has two necessary yet potentially unrelated compliance and risk mitigation functions happening concurrently for its card program. To put it in simple terms: C2FO has onboarding security and compliance components, and transaction monitoring and fraud prevention components. In theory, this separation could be challenging for the team to navigate, but because Unit21 ingests data from both sides, this separation of functions is a non-issue for Phil’s team.

“We've incorporated Unit21 into our onboarding approvals and our post-transaction review and analysis. It is valuable having a partnership capable of solving multiple compliance and fraud prevention functions from within the same UI, and it speaks to the flexibility of Unit21 systems.”

Phil then explained that he’s optimistic there will be additional downstream benefits because C2FO is using a single solution for both of those major functions and that the company currently sees good overall ROI from its investment into Unit21.

C2FO and Unit21: Final Thoughts

When asked to provide insights to someone considering Unit21, Phil made a great analogy. 

He said, “I would ask them if they're the type of curious person who wants to solve their own problems. Some people need a paint-by-number. They're not going to be van Gogh. They're going to do whatever someone tells them to do.” 

At the end of the day, Phil’s response alludes to the fact that Unit21 is a dynamic solution meant to be customized for each organization’s specific use case, and not a rigid, out-of-the-box software. Because C2FO requires a data-driven compliance and fraud prevention program, the ability to adapt its system to the ever-changing fraud landscape is paramount. 

“When it comes to fraud, it's not evolving month to month. It is more like week-to-week or day-to-day. I look to the future of fraud prevention and think it relies on the tools that are going to have the flexibility needed to combat an ever-changing enemy.

To me, the future is systems like Unit21, which are light on code, light on rigidity, and heavy on flexibility and experimentation. I believe we have chosen a vendor in Unit21 that is capable of meeting the challenges of what fraud looks like in 2023 and beyond.”

“I believe we have chosen a vendor in Unit21 that is capable of meeting the challenges of what fraud looks like in 2023 and beyond.”

Philip Bess

Senior Manager of Card Operations at C2FO

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