Collaboration across ecommerce industry is key in fighting fraud – interview with MRC

Tuesday 12 February 2019 09:46 CET | Interview

Paul Kuykendall depicts his vision of MRC`s future opportunities and the way this community evolved in order to support merchants in fighting payments and commerce fraud

Could you please provide our readers with some insights into your professional background, prior to joining MRC?

My degree is in mechanical engineering, so I love to solve problems. However, I started my payments career as a software engineer at Ticketmaster, which has grown into the largest and most comprehensive ticketing platform in the world. We built our payments and ecommerce platforms from the ground up, for ultra-high performance and scalability. About midway through my journey at Ticketmaster, I caught the fraud-fighting bug, and dedicated much of my time to making our payments and risk teams work closely together to disrupt the fraudsters. We developed internal systems and partnered with other great companies to fight back.

As an ecommerce leader, with extremely high stakes in fighting fraud, my organisation joined the MRC as a Merchant Member where I soon became very involved in the MRC community, engaging as a conference speaker, a committee member, and ultimately serving on its Board of Directors.

Merchant Risk Council is now a well-known association among fraud and payments professionals, firmly rooted in the industry. How did everything start and what problems were the founding members looking to solve back then?

This whole thing started almost two decades ago. In fact, the MRC celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020, and to this day continues its vision of making commerce safe and profitable everywhere. It all began when a handful of online retailers got together to discuss their challenges in fighting fraud.

The Internet was brand new, with huge potential for sales, and in turn, created a new channel for criminals to infiltrate and take advantage. This merchant group met in person a few times a year, and later formed the organisation known now as the Merchant Risk Council. As ecommerce exploded, so did fraud, and the demand for online solutions and technology to fight it. The MRC naturally grew in membership and expanded its reach to include solution providers, issuers, card brands, law enforcement, and other industry partners. Today the MRC consists of a diverse mix of nearly 550 member companies representing a wide variety of industries, technologies, and services. What’s really cool is that nearly all the founders are still very involved with the MRC, either as merchants or solution provider member organisations. Collaboration started everything and continues to be what it’s all about.

What were the key themes on the agenda of US fraud and payment managers for this year?

Improving the customer experience is an interesting theme that is emerging from the merchant community and is reflected in upcoming conference agendas and the ongoing conversation. The conflict between checkout friction and sales conversion is always a point of discussion. Identifying fraudulent behaviour without rejecting or offending good customers is critical because the market is so competitive. Identity verification, machine learning, deep analytics, and chargeback management are all gaining prominence in the conversation. But, as always, the focus is on people getting better at what they do, learning from their peers, and evolving together with the industry.

How does MRC help new entrants in the industry cope with the rapid changes in the payments fraud and risk environment? 

Our primary mission is engagement within our community. MRC leads the industry with information about fighting fraud, reducing risk, and optimising payments. We offer and are expanding our online education courses called RAPID Edu, which is short for Risk and Payments Industry Development Education. This is a great leg-up for professionals new to the payments and fraud industry because they can take educational courses at their own pace, and on their own schedule, at a time convenient to them day or night. Currently, the MRC offers a Chargeback Essentials course and will soon be releasing a Fraud Essentials course followed by a Payments Essentials course in the coming year. We also encourage collaboration through our mentor programme, where new folks can meet experienced professionals and get a quick introduction to key people and concepts that will improve their skills. Our website is packed with case studies, webinars, surveys and whitepapers (as well as other relevant content to help educate) and our community forums spur important conversations. Last but certainly not least, we offer four annual, best-in-class conferences in the US and Europe as well as regional networking events throughout the year. We truly have so many avenues through which our merchants can learn and grow.

How do you see this industry evolving in terms of both challenges and innovations and how does this evolution align with MRC’s plans for 2019?

We are the MRC community and together we evolve’ was the theme of our autumn conferences this year, and we totally embrace it. The business of fighting fraud is changing at a rapid pace, and merchants must adapt together. The fintech industry is bursting at the seams with new and better ways to identify and stop fraud. The very cool thing about the collaboration that the MRC generates is that we, as a community, solve problems, and share the solutions. It’s an arms race, for sure. We know that fraudsters collaborate. They share tools and resources on the dark web. They exchange information about what works for them, and what doesn’t. The best way to beat them is for merchants, large and small, to work as a team. That’s what the MRC is all about.

This interview was first published in the Web Fraud Prevention, Identity Verification & Authentication Guide 2018-2019. The Guide covers some of the security challenges encountered in the ecommerce and banking, and financial services ecosystems. Moreover, it provides payment and fraud and risk management professionals with a series of insightful perspectives on key aspects, such as fraud management, identity verification, online authentication, and regulation.

About Paul Kuykendall

With over 20 years of experience in global payments and fraud technology, Paul came to the MRC as the VP of Payment Platforms for the world’s largest ticketing company. He is a subject matter expert on payment processing, data security, compliance, and risk mitigation. Paul’s prior MRC involvement includes various committees, regional boards, and the Global Board of Directors.


About Merchant Risk Council

The Merchant Risk Council (MRC) is a global trade association providing a platform for ecommerce fraud and payments professionals to come together and share information. As a not-for-profit entity, the MRC provides year-round support and education to members by offering access to proprietary benchmarking reports, whitepapers, presentations, and webinars. The MRC hosts four annual conferences in the US and Europe, as well as regional networking meetings for professionals to build better business connections, exchange best practices, and share emerging trends. The MRC is headquartered in Seattle, WA and has an office in Dublin, Ireland.

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Keywords: ecommerce, MRC, Paul Kuykendall, payments fraud, customer experience
Countries: World