Voice of the Industry

Navigating the 2024 trends in payments and fraud – keynotes from MRC Barcelona 2024

Tuesday 28 May 2024 09:35 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Voice of the industry

The biggest MRC event in Europe – MRC Barcelona 2024 – focused once more on gathering industry enthusiasts in payments and fraud prevention, as merchants are looking for additional ways to prevent fraud and lower their cart abandonment rates using high-end technologies.

In the realm of payments and fraud management, MRC Barcelona 2024 stands out as the ultimate ecommerce conference in Europe’ state the MRC organisers, anticipating the thrill and the journey the three-day event headed towards this year.


As a ‘seasoned’ MRC attendee, with my second year in a row participation, I took it upon myself to mingle around the pink badge wearers, proudly flashing their first-year attendance. This year was filled with insightful panels, top-notch key speakers, and a perfect combination of lunch goodies and fraud discussions. Of coure, everything was possible thanks to the conference’s key sponsors, including Worldpay (the overall sponsor), Signifyd, JPMorgan, Forter, Persona, Trustly, Visa, Riskified, CMSPI, payabl., riverty, PayPal, and more. 

The Paypers continued to set the tone in the fintech media as the only media outlet attending the conference, packed with key-note speakers, notable merchants, and enthusiast solution providers. 

This year’s edition had us returning to a not-so-sunny Barcelona, Spain, but still among more than 500 industry leaders and experts, facilitating an interactive discussion forum for exchanging insights and perspectives on two main fronts – the payments innovations industry and the fraud prevention industry. Expanding knowledge and gaining a solid understanding of critical topics were two of the main focuses of the event, but attendees also had the opportunity to delve into insightful panels and a plethora of networking opportunities spanning across the three-day event. 



Agenda for 2024

As usual, the leading conference for European payments and fraud prevention specialists, MRC Barcelona 2024 brought together seasoned key-note speakers addressing merchants’ concerns in engaging panels on interesting topics that will certainly be addressed in the future. The workshops on payments and fraud represented powerful tools for both agnostics and experienced players in the field to refresh their definitions of fraud or payments or stay in touch with the 2024 key trends. Most of the discussions revolved around but were certainly not limited to:

  • Promo abuse

  • Chargebacks

  • ATO (account takeover)

  • Bot attacks

  • PSD3 & SCA regulations

  • The future of A2A payments

  • Authentication

  • GenAI and the latest developments in the field

  • Latest tools to prevent and deter fraud

  • Subscription chargebacks

  • Card testing

  • IP stuffing

  • Social engineering

  • Refunds

  • Romantic scams and abuse

  • Marketplace fraud and more.

For those who had the time to previously read the MRC 2024 Global Payments and Fraud Report, it came as no surprise that promo abuse and bot attacks were the talk of the town, avidly discussed during panels and ad-hoc in-between session meetings. A rising trend in 2023 – AI – has made its comeback into the event’s agenda for this year as well, with panellists discussing current and future developments in how AI is used to authenticate and onboard new users, how fraudsters use AI, and how can AI be further used to optimise digital UX. The use of GenAI and bots was also a hot topic, especially since deepfakes are becoming more accurate by the day and their malicious use by fraudsters can cause tremendous financial and emotional loss to victims. 

Other interesting topics and concepts addressed included revenue loss and the true costs of fraud, chargebacks, card network penalties, subscription chargebacks, card testing, the continuous use of fraud rings and Fraud-as-a-Service, IP stuffing, account takeover (ATO), marketplace fraud, social engineering, and the introduction of gradual friction to distinguish between authentic customers and flagged (potential fraud/fake) customers.  

In terms of payments, similar to the 2023 edition of the event, payments orchestration remained a topic of interest, while others further discussed the increasing adoption of A2A payments and how can institutions and merchants make them frictionless. 

Key notes from the organisers

They say mornings are always better with a cup of coffee but adding in some interesting key notes from notorious speakers is what really sets the MRC Barcelona event different from others. Bringing together the brilliant team of organisers and Worldpay, the overall sponsor of the conference, attendees were invited to deepen their knowledge about PSD3 and PSR in a vivid debate featuring Nuno Epifânio, policy officer at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA), and The Paypers’ Managing Director, Mélisande Mual


The discussion aimed to uncover the effects, challenges, and the opportunities these regulatory frameworks may represent for companies in various sectors, including fintech, ecommerce, and payments. And, although we’re still many months away from the official adoption of PSD3, merchants and solution providers alike hope that some of the friction caused by PSD2 will be eliminated with the new directives.  


The final morning of the event featured a breathtaking and visceral confession of Cecilie Fjellhøy, fraud fighter, public speaker, and activist, known from Netflix’s hit show, The Tinder Swindler. Co-founder of LoveSaid, Cecilie reminisced the relationship with a romantic scammer who left her in debt and her journey to rehabilitate her name and her financial credibility in the face of financial authorities on two continents. Now an activist fighting to raise awareness about romantic scams, emotional abuse, love bombing, and other types of social engineering techniques fraudsters might appeal to, Cecilie’s story went hand-in-hand with the event’s agenda, focusing on the ever-evolving types of fraud. She strives to promote transparency, accountability, and support systems for fraud victims, denouncing the long journey banks and financial institutions are still ahead from protecting individuals from potential fraudsters. 

At the same time, Cecilie advocates for shifting the blame and the focus from the victim to the fraudster, mentioning that, often enough, victims continue to feel bullied by both the authorities and regular people if they come straight-forward with their story, which add extra pressure on the victim and potentially intimidates others from sharing their experiences. 



Novelties brought by panels

During the three-day event, solution providers, merchants, specialists, and key-note speakers gathered to share insights into the most popular topics in the payments and fraud prevention industry. From crash-courses to the newest technologies deployed and the common fraud types merchants currently fight against, there was a panel to satisfy all attendee’s knowledge thirst. 

The payments-related panels focused on the adoption of A2A payments, latest innovations and use cases in payments orchestration, payment optimisation strategies, real-time data and machine learning, marketplace payments, and navigating through the complicated realm of PSD2, PSD3, and SCA, among other topics. 

In the panel entitled FIDO: The Key to Unlocking Frictionless A2A Payments, experts from Google mentioned the main struggles of the mass-adoption of A2A payments, including complexity, security, and fragmentation, as well as the lack of a unified authentication standard to reduce friction with this payment method. Their solution was a mass adoption of FIDO authentication, a global authentication standard based on public key cryptography. This type of authentication provides a superior user experience and phishing-resistant security, while also allowing users to login with passkeys across their devices with a biometric security key. According to the panelists, FIDO authentication is successfully used by PIX, the instant payment platform created and managed by the Central Bank of Brazil (BCB), the monetary authority of the country. 


Another interesting panel was Silent & Strong: The Next Generation of Fraud Prevention Technology, featuring Wolt, Glovo, and Incognia. The discussion focused on the role of multi-factor authentication, in an age where more fraudsters are trying to bypass authorisation and commit fraud. The moderators talked about how, in the past, fraudsters would clear the cache or delete an app to erase the fingerprint used to log into an electronic device, which further helped them to authorise payments. This pain point has long been addressed by merchants and app developers who are now trying to make fingerprinting more secure. At the same time, food delivery apps like Glovo and Wolt, who activate in low-risk industries, have seen a surge in various types of fraud, including ATO (account takeover), promo abuse, and even courier fraud. 

Moving forward to a panel focused on promo abuse, Cracking the Code: Winning the Battle Against Promo Abuse, speakers from Pets at Home and Signifyd provided a holistic approach on various types of fraud associated with promo abuse and discussed what merchants can do to stop it. For merchants selling physical, quantifiable goods, promo codes have long been abused by fraudsters pretending to be first-time shoppers. At the same time, fraudsters can hack into “seasoned” accounts from previously verified premium buyers and benefit from their loyalty points and discounts, not only causing financial damage to merchants but also posing a threat to their trustworthiness. 

Consumer abuse has been named the number one type of fraud experienced by merchants in 2023, and things don’t look brighter for the rest of 2024, showing the gravity of the problem and the myriad of sub-types of fraud that emerge from consumers’ abusive behaviour, including wardrobing, shipping abuse, or return policy abuse.




The interactive panel featured a Q&A session at the end, as well as some useful tips for merchants to fight against promo abuse – improved return policies, adding extra layers of friction for untrustworthy customers and removing friction for ‘good’ clients, as well as using a combination of AI and ML tools to improve checkout experience without adding extra friction for loyal customers.

Overall, the three-day conference was packed with high-quality and interesting content that not only helped merchants talk openly about their struggles but also helped the industry as a whole take the pulse of the payments and fraud industry, exchange knowledge, and get educated on the intricacies of this tech realm. The entire MRC agenda, as well as the full list of speakers can be checked here

Food for thought

Heading back home from this event, I remembered all the great people I met during the event, the openness of experts to share their knowledge and educate the audience, as well as the insightful meetings and the networking opportunities that make this event the closest to my fraud prevention-oriented heart. Privileged enough to meet so many amazing individuals and allowing myself the time to explore panels tailored to my interests and curiosities, I bring home some valuable insights and lessons:

  • Customer abuse. Together with account takeover, customer abuse was the talk of the town on the MRC agenda, with merchants and solution providers joining hands to create a common strategy to better tackle and fight it. 

  • The continuous rise of A2A payments. As A2A payments increase in popularity, there should be a global protocol allowing this type of payments to be implemented faster and more secure. At the same time, authentication is crucial to prevent fraud. The Fast ID Online (FIDO) standard can help make simple, secure, and frictionless payments a reality while reducing fraud. The FIDO protocol has already been successfully implemented in Brazil through PIX, pushing A2A payments adoption further. The future shouldn’t rely on card payments only, as more alternative payment methods, including A2A payments should be made available on a large scale to ensure flexibility to all users and promote financial inclusion across the globe.

  • The continuous development of GenAI and its use cases. Artificial intelligence has been broadly adopted in multiple industries, forcing technological leaps and development, while also raising concern about its downsides. The fraud prevention industry heavily relies on ML/AI to solve fraud-related problems, while fraudsters become more tech-savvy and deploy similar AI-boosted tools to cause more damage. Solution providers, merchants, and fintechs must all work together to identify these threats in time and create a holistic approach to fraud.

  • Bot attacks and scams. Although these types of fraud have been around for decades, fraudsters have refined their techniques too to prey on their victims. Bot attacks are usually launched to cause damage to a merchant’s or company’s official website by slowing down the page or causing errors at checkout. On the other hand, scams mostly focus on the end-user and look to either get money through social engineering or obtain valuable personal information which can later be used in exchange of money or to obtain goods from online purchases. 

A special shout out goes towards the entire MRC team and especially to Tracy Brown for organising the event and for their continuous efforts to bring relevant topics to the table and raise awareness through top voices. Finally, The Paypers is grateful for being the only media outlet to participate at this merchant-centred conference and for the numerous networking opportunities, as well as the content shared through the panels. 


About Irina Ionescu

Irina is a Senior Editor at The Paypers, primarily specialising in online payments and fraud prevention. She has a Ph.D. in Economics and a strong economic academic background, with interests in fraud prevention, chargebacks, fintech, ecommerce, and online payments. You can reach out to her via LinkedIn or email at irina@thepaypers.com.

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Keywords: fraud management, fraud detection, online fraud, identity fraud, online payments, account-to-account payment, PSD2, PSD3, scam, romantic scam, promo abuse, artificial intelligence, machine learning, bot attacks, carding, ecommerce, merchant, generative AI, online authentication, multi-factor authentication, biometric authentication, chargebacks, merchant fraud, digital onboarding, account takeover, refund, refund fraud
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Companies: Merchant Risk Council, MRC
Countries: Spain
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime

Merchant Risk Council



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