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What We Learned at MRC Vegas 2022
MRC Vegas was back this year, and better than ever. One of the highlights of the fraud prevention annual calendar, MRC Vegas is known for drawing experts from diverse industries together to share their experiences, discuss trends and help one another prepare for the challenges ahead.
The team from Identiq had a fantastic time at MRC Vegas, diving into numerous conversations about a rich variety of fraud-related topics. ATO, bots, collaboration, diversity in AI, evolution of the criminal underground, friendly fraud - every topic, from A-Z, was talked about that week, by people who see not just the problems but also ingenious directions for solving them.
Most especially, the atmosphere was full of the sheer joy people took in being together again, face-to-face. Conversations were open and honest, and collaboration was in the air. You could feel how passionately participants wanted to work together, to defeat the common fraudster enemy.
Panel With MRC CEO and Tal Yeshanov
Shoshana Maraney, co-author of Practical Fraud Prevention, the new book recently published by O’Reilly, is also Identiq’s Content and Communications Director. She ran a panel on What We Learned From Writing a Fraud Book together with MRC’s CEO Julie Fergerson and Tal Yeshanov, Plastiq’s Head of Strategic Risk and Financial Operations.
The conversation was dynamic and entertaining, ranging from the waves Buy Now Pay Later has made in the industry, to the steps needed to gain respect, resources and budget internally, to the stresses fraud teams have experienced over the last two years, and more - all with lots of anecdotes grounding and illustrating the discussion.
Tal and Julie are both fantastic, engaging speakers, drawing on their considerable experience in fraud prevention as well as on the interviews they contributed to the making of Practical Fraud Prevention. All this, plus Shoshana’s descriptions of the intensive research involved in the book, the surprises that came up during the interviews, and some of the highlights of writing it, made it a memorable and popular session.
A Change of Pace
There were two strong trends underlying many of the sessions and discussions during the week, which were in interesting contrast to one another.
On one hand, there was a sense of things speeding up. To name just some of the examples discussed:
- New payment methods - cryptocurrency becoming more widely accepted, BNPL, and more
- More markets becoming more significant to many companies - particularly expansion in South America
- New regulatory pressures - PSD2, questions about the metaverse and how that will be regulated
- Extra delivery options - BOPIS/BORIS, lockers
- New challenges in running fraud departments - remote work, the Great Resignation, the increased pressure due to the growth of online commerce
- All this alongside the growing sophistication of the online fraud ecosystem and tech.
On the other hand, the point was often raised that fraud fighters need to take a breath and slow down. The need to innovate and evolve is very real, but there’s a strong need for concerted strategic planning, not only tactical responses. For example:
- Analyze the changes of the last two years to see where the company’s at - good customer trends, product insights, fraud attack trends and fraud ring identification
- Put serious thought into longer term solutions to problems like friendly fraud and returns fraud, which many merchants have seen explode
- Remote work - has advantages in employee flexibility and global recruitment and coverage, but now that we’re not in a rush, how can we not just do it, but excel at it?
- Invest in imaginative retention policies - because fraud fighters are in high demand
- Reimagine recruitment and onboarding - to adapt to the new challenges, and the new situation, and to scale
- Crisis planning. Teams scrambled when things changed abruptly during the pandemic, and many are determined to be better prepared next time a crisis arises.
Many fraud experts are determined to take the time to strategize and get things right, rather than reacting constantly to new emergencies.
Accounts & Experience, Not Transactions & Checkout
Another notable theme that emerged across sessions and conversations was the shift from a focus on transactions, and checkout, to a wider look at the customer journey.
This mirrors the way many fraud teams have shifted from a sole focus on chargebacks as KPIs to a more complex consideration of friction and false positives as well as fraud prevention. However, it became clear at MRC Vegas that many fraud leaders are now even looking beyond that, towards the entire customer experience including protection of accounts and their ecosystem.
Customer experience doesn’t begin and end with item selection and purchase; it may begin long before, and continue for years afterwards. Fraud fighters are starting to think in terms of that long-term relationship, analyzing the vulnerabilities and how they can be protected.
As digital identity becomes more intricate and even more essential, with ideas about the metaverse growing and more of our lives moving online, this trend is only going to continue.
This shift is made more delicate by the spanner “good” customers are throwing into the works - first-party misuse, promo abuse and refund fraud were all the subject of hot debate (and some exasperated venting) throughout the conference. Finding the right balance is more important than ever - but also more difficult.
If there was one theme that came up over and over at MRC Vegas, it was collaboration. Collaboration between merchants, between industries, between different elements of the payments ecosystem, between merchants and banks - it seemed that almost every solution proposed, regardless of the problem, involved increased collaboration in one form or another.
At Identiq, collaboration is in our DNA. Our company, our product and our network is literally built around the idea of working together.
If you want to work with some of the biggest online companies in the world, to validate each others’ good users without sharing any personal user information - get in touch.
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