Voice of the Industry

Setting industry trends – keynotes from MRC Barcelona 2023

Friday 23 June 2023 10:33 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Voice of the industry

MRC Barcelona 2023 focused on sharing with the community the latest trends in the payments industry and how to efficiently fight fraud, using the newest technologies and developments in the field of fraud prevention.

Staying in line to receive my badge at the registration desk, I was surprised to find out that first time attendees at MRC events receive a special sticker, allowing regular attendees to facilitate chatting with ‘newbies’, making them feel welcomed in what is a powerful community. Ultimately, this led to a great ice breaker and interesting conversations both with merchants and solution providers. 

Held under the warm Spanish sun at the beginning of summer, the MRC Barcelona 2023 gathered over 500 industry leaders and experts, facilitating an interactive discussion forum for exchanging insights and perspectives on two main fronts – the payments 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, which was also filled with interactive sessions, deep-dive breakouts, and plenty of networking opportunities. 

With a growing community of industry peers, MRC sets the trends for the payments industry and pinpoints the main concerns, while also providing the perfect place for innovative solutions that will ultimately help merchants feel safer and conduct business better. 

The Paypers was the only media outlet attending the event and after three days filled with interesting panels, artistic events, and networking afterparties, here are some of the key moments I experienced, as well as the valuable lessons I brought home in my oversized luggage.


Main topics addressed

MRC Barcelona is a leading conference for European payments and fraud prevention specialists, attended by global merchants operating in Europe, which set the scene for fresh content from experts. Its extensive agenda included keynotes, workshops, and round tables, focusing on:

  • Payment innovations

  • Payment optimisation

  • Payment orchestration

  • Open Banking

  • PSD2 & regulations

  • Tokenization

  • Authentication

  • Fraud prevention

  • First-party misuse

  • Dark web & cybercrime

  • Account takeover

Interesting panels saw global experts debating the hottest topics in the industry of payments, starring payment orchestration, payment optimisation strategies, variable recurring payments (VRP), Open Banking, click-to-pay, and real-time payments. Additionally, merchants continue to optimise payments, delivering highly customised solutions for end-users, which implies deep knowledge and insights into customers’ behaviour, including preferred payment methods, and plenty of local alternatives. From BNPL to account-to-account (A2A) payments, biometric payments, and cards, merchants had a lot to debate, especially with new regulations on the continent, and the upcoming launch of FedNow in the US. 

At the same time, the most notable trends in fraud and fraud prevention saw a focus on key industries (travel and ecommerce). First party misuse and, most commonly, chargeback fraud remain on the rise, with merchants looking to invest more in late-stage technologies to increase approval rates without causing additional friction.

The rise of biometrics and passwordless technologies represented another important trend discussed at MRC Barcelona, channelling its multi-level implications. Bot attacks, fraud rings, and the adoption of AI in criminal networks delivering Fraud-as-a-Service could make one-click harder to implement by merchants. As for AI, there was plenty of turmoil regarding the need of better international regulation that could put a hold on the development of generative AI solutions. 

Key notes from the organisers

Each of the event’s mornings started with a delicious coffee break followed by keynotes from the organisers, the MRC, and the overall sponsor of the event, JP Morgan. The latter provided insightful trivia and anecdotes about the company’s beginnings, while MRC announced its official launching in LATAM, as of 1 July 2023. With its latest expansion, the organisation now covers a global audience, with branches in Europe, North America, and the APAC region starting from 2021. At the same time, some companies taking the stage warned about some of the most important macro ecommerce struggles, such as SCA frustration, scamming, and refund abuse, while others talked about triangulation fraud, mule fraud, account takeover, organised crime, and how fraudsters will continue investing in AI, which means fraud prevention solution providers must continue their efforts to combat AI.


Attending panels – the best way to take the pulse of merchants and solution providers

Panels were held during the second and third day of the event, focusing on providing more insights into the latest trends in the industry of payments and fraud prevention. 

As previously mentioned, payments orchestration was one of the hot topics of the year, with specialists from Google and Flagship Advisory Partners defining orchestration and illustrating how merchants can leverage it to optimise their payment ecosystems. Another panel on the same topic saw specialists from CarTrawler and APEXX discussing a case study on how to implement payments orchestration to best benefit a company’s viewpoints. 

An Open Banking panel brought together specialists from JP Morgan, MRC, Volt.io, and BPCE Payments in a lucrative talk moderated by Melisande Mual, Managing Director at The Paypers. The key points touched on were the adoption trends across various verticals and the use cases of Open Banking, as well as the main advantages and challenges for merchants looking to benefit from it across North America and Europe.

Moving forward to the panels focusing on fraud-related topics, an interesting panel I attended was the Bots to Boardroom – Understanding the impact of bots on merchant’s bottomline, with insights from F5 and Mythical Games. The presentation detailed on security breaches and how automated attacks leading to credential stuffing and ATO fraud continue to present risks for merchants, as the ROI for fraudsters launching these attacks remains attractive. Simultaneously, the panel also focused on tangible steps merchants can take to prevent ATO and drive sales. 

I was pleasantly surprised to notice a full room at a presentation that was not only interactive but also filled with valuable information merchants can later chew on. The Dark Web and cybercrime trends held by Tobias Wieloch from Europol captivated the audience as it touched base with trendy topics such as cybercrime, AI, fraudsters’ risk management, and the need for stronger KYC protocols implemented by companies and international organisations to identify and prevent ATOs, identity theft, synthetic identities, and false identities. 

In 2019, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the MRC Europe to facilitate cooperation and take action against ecommerce fraud. And, although I cannot disclose more details on one of the main attraction points of Europol’s presentation, it certainly brought light to merchants’ understanding and provided additional details on the organisation’s continuous fight against cyber fraud in all its forms – as proven by the long Q&A session following afterwards. 
What I can disclose is that if you ever wondered about the security of your accounts or email address and have doubts about the privacy of the data you shared, you can check your hack through this tool here.

Miscellaneous moments

Those who regularly attend events know that what makes an event truly memorable is its chain of small, disruptive, and miscellaneous moments happening in-between panels, presentations, business lunches, and networking opportunities. Without diminishing the intrinsic value and the knowledge shared between top specialists during the main activities of such events, MRC Barcelona 2023 also aced in terms of fun, both on stage and offstage. 

By far one of the most refreshing moments was the event’s fast-paced and fun session – Ignite. During this moment, sponsors were challenged to present their solutions in a creative manner, while keeping up with their presentation slides that auto-advanced every 12 seconds. This paved the way for an entertaining moment where the audience learned more about what is happening in the cutting-edge of the fraud prevention and payments industry, in a fun way. Leave it to Karan Johal and Erik Donnelly from Ecommpay to bring the stage on fire with a fabulous rap moment and steal the show, although notable efforts were also made by Darwinium and Google Cloud.

The closing reception of the event featured a live and colourful moment of traditional Spanish songs and dances, followed by an entertaining game of Uno cards at the Nethone booth, together with Anda Kania and Bruna Luise Muller. And their Nethoncino? A great touch brought to perfection in each cup, thanks to the delightful barista. 



What to bring home 

Joining three full days in Barcelona, I bring home not only valuable knowledge regarding the latest trends in payments and fraud but also an excellent overall experience, where I had the privilege to connect with merchants, professionals, and solution providers, learning more about the industry, and what the future brings. 

  • Payments orchestration. The hottest topic of the year brought together specialists discussing the need and the use cases of payments orchestration.

  • Real time payments/Open Banking. The need for instant payments or real time payments is real, as customers are looking for flexibility and customisation when it comes to online payments. More steps are made in the field of Open Banking to facilitate account-to-account (A2A) payments internationally, with clear engagement in Europe, North America, and the APAC region. 

  • Fraud rings. Defined as groups of fraudsters sharing resources to commit fraudulent acts, fraud rings remain one of the main threats to merchants worldwide. Facilitated by the Dark Web and highly encrypted instant messaging apps, fraudsters become more organised and skilled, boosting their ROIs by delivering fraud services in the form of bots, bot farms, and plenty of other tools to steal identities and takeover accounts. 

  • Phishing/vishing/pharming. Their prevalence in 2023 and beyond proof that the broader customers are still in need of digital education and a common effort between the public and the private sectors to combat these types of fraud. 

  • ReCAPTCHA. Its latest version uses advanced risk analysis techniques to distinguish between humans and bots and can be easily implemented on a website to protect it from spam and abuse. 

  • The future of AI and its use cases. While some militate for a break when it comes to further developing AI tech, others have already successfully implemented it in their daily routines. From solving complicated problems to providing relationship advice, AI is being used by companies, fraudsters, and regular people alike. However, its true power remains unclear to the public and only time will tell whether it will be used for a greater good or not. 


About Irina Ionescu

Irina is a Senior Editor at The Paypers, primarily specialising in Payments and Commerce. She has a Ph.D. in Economics and a strong economic academic background, with interests in fintech, ecommerce, alternative payment methods, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies. You can reach out to her via LinkedIn or email (irina@thepaypers.com). 

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Keywords: Account fraud, account takeover, account-to-account payment, Open Banking, artificial intelligence, bot attacks, machine learning, online payments, payment processing, recurring payments, instant payments, payments orchestration, fraud management, fraud detection, online fraud, fraud prevention, biometrics, behavioural biometrics, biometric authentication, friendly fraud, fraud-as-a-service, payment methods, Variable Recurring Payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: MRC
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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