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Trust me – how unnecessary declines affect your business

Surag Patel, vice president of global product management for 41st Parameter, led a panel discussion on Digital Consumer Trust with experts from the merchant community and financial services industry at this week’s CNP Expo. During the hour-long session, the expert panel – which included Patel, Jeff Muschick of MasterCard and TJ Horan from FICO – discussed primary research explaining the $40 billion in revenue lost each year to unwarranted CNP credit-card declines and what businesses can do to avoid it.

Patel began the Thursday morning session by asking the audience how many have bought something online—of course, everyone raised their hands. He then asked how many had been declined—about half the hands stayed up. “Of those with your hands still up,” he said, “how many of you are fraudsters?” The audience chuckled, but the reality of false positives and unnecessary declines is no laughing matter. Unnecessary declines cause lost revenue and damage the customer relationship with merchants, banks and card issuers.

The panel cited a 41st Parameter survey of 1,000 consumers and described their responses to the question, what do you do after you get declined? While many would call the card issuer or try a different payment method, one in six would actually skip the purchase altogether, one in ten would purchase from a different online merchant, and one in twelve would go buy the item at a brick-and-mortar store. So regardless of who the customer blames, ultimately, when a good purchase is declined, everybody loses.

Jeff Muschick, who works in fraud solutions for MasterCard, spoke about the need for a solid rules engine, and recommended embracing new tools as they emerge to enhance their fraud prevention strategy. He acknowledged that for smaller merchants, keeping up with fraudsters can be incredibly taxing, and often even at larger organizations, fraud departments are understaffed. For that reason, he highlighted a tool that many fraud prevention strategies are leaving on the table, and that’s cooperation: “We talk about collaboration, but it’s not as gregarious as we’d like it to be.”

TJ Horan, who is responsible for fraud solutions at FICO, encouraged merchants, banks, and card issuers to mitigate the damage of good declines through customer education. He observed that “if there was a positive thing to come out of the Target breach (and that’s a big ‘if’), it is an increase in general consumer awareness of credit-card fraud and data protection.” This helps inform customers’ attitudes when they are declined, because they realize it is probably a measure being taken for their own protection, and they are likely to be more forgiving.

Click here for more information about TrustInsight and how online merchants can increase sales by approving more trusted transactions.