Cyber criminals netted an estimated £8 billion from one million attacks on financial services in 2016.

A report from security firm ThreatMetrix is based on analysis of 20bn online transactions.

It revealed that cyber criminals are seeking to capitalise on alternative lending and payment models.

Vice president of strategy and product marketing Vanita Pandey said: “Due to its surge in popularity, and fast transaction cycles, online lending has become a prime target for cyber criminals.

“Online lenders are under increasing pressure to adopt smarter authentication methods that leverage real-time, behaviour-based intelligence to accelerate genuine loans and prevent fraud.”

The most popular attack method is when online fraudsters exploit the time delays inherent in reporting loan agreements to credit bureaus for substantial financial gain.

This method of attack is expected to grow in 2017 with the number of attacks specifically targeting alternative lending up by 150 per cent since the third quarter of 2016.

ThreatMetrix detected 80 million attacks using fake or stolen credentials during 2016 in the financial sector alone.

The financial services sector had its biggest mobile quarter ever in the UK last year with 76 per cent of transactions coming from mobile devices.

The report also said that UK consumers are now also increasingly opening new accounts on mobile devices, with steady growth in mobile account applications in the past year.