The Silicon Review
For most online merchants, chargebacks are a frustrating fact of life. Revenue from transactions completed days, weeks, or even months earlier can suddenly disappear from the merchant’s account because their customer called their bank to dispute the sale. As a result, the business loses the merchandise, pays fees and fines, and suffers an unexpected (forced) refund for the original sales price as well. It goes without saying that chargebacks are expensive. Industry publications estimate that for every $1 in chargebacks, the merchant pays over $3 – this is in addition to the hidden costs related to managing the problem and its effects on their reputation. Chargebacks happen when a cardholder disputes a transaction on a payment card, going to their bank to settle their issue, instead of the retailer. Without chargebacks, consumers would have no way to confront merchants who didn’t fulfill their obligations. At that point, using a card would offer no assurance of non-liability for credit card fraud or identity theft. Chargebacks play a major role in protecting consumers from fraud or potentially dishonest merchant practices. This protection is a competitive differentiator for card payments, and one of the reasons why eCommerce has experienced such growth. Chargebacks can be the result of a merchant error, miscommunication, criminal fraud, and a host of other reasons, but these days, the majority of chargebacks are mistakenly filed, coming from consumers who are leveraging this system out of convenience. Due to a lack of cardholder education, most consumers are not aware of what happens when they bypass the retailer and go directly to the bank. Many assume that disputing a transaction through their bank (as a way of cancelling a subscription or processing a refund) is the same as calling the retailer – only faster.
Founded in 2011, Chargebacks911® is the first global company fully dedicated to mitigating chargeback risk and remediating chargeback fraud. As pioneers in the industry, Chargebacks911 was the first to recognize that the bulk of merchants’ chargeback losses were not coming from professional fraudsters (e.g., identity theft, etc.). The company is credited with developing some of the first – and still the most effective – technologies for managing disputes and recovering revenue lost to unwarranted chargebacks. Chargebacks911 provides comprehensive SaaS solutions for countering invalid chargebacks, managing fraud risk, and optimizing revenue recovery. Their scalable solutions provide measurable benefits for businesses in a wide range of industries and sectors, helping to ensure sustainable growth for every member of the payment chain.
In conversation with Monica Eaton-Cardone, Founder of Chargebacks911
Q. What products or services do you provide?
In a nutshell, we offer merchants comprehensive, end-to-end solutions for chargebacks and dispute management. Chargebacks represent a $250+ billion liability to the market and we’ve been developing better and more intelligent ways to help mitigate this risk – and eliminate this type of post-transaction fraud – for more than a decade. Our technology platform is hub-and-spoke, and entirely cloud-based. We utilize a micro-service architecture, which allows us to be very agile and offer lightweight integration methods. In short, this means, we dramatically reduce integration requirements, enabling us to provide next-generation solutions to businesses of any size and scope. Using Machine Learning and AI, we continue to expand and evolve our patented technologies and techniques, including our Intelligence Source Detection (ISD), which allows merchants to identify and combat the true sources of their chargebacks. That may sound inconsequential, but we have found that more data – and the correct interpretation of this data - is the cornerstone of effective chargeback management. Identifying chargeback fraud (and subsequently recovering lost revenues related) is not as valuable to a business as understanding what might have caused the problem, and then using this feedback to prevent repeat scenarios. Ultimately, our solution enables better decisions, supported by better data. That’s one of the pitfalls when it comes to chargeback management: the lack of data, the confusing and often conflicting interpretation of that data, and the incorrect assumptions that too often follow. For example, every chargeback case includes a reason code, which relates to a description of why the claim may have been filed. Unfortunately, due to the fragmentation and bias in our industry, reason codes are largely unreliable. So, any improvement strategy that is primarily based on these codes is pretty much doomed from the start. Put another way, if a merchant is solving a problem that may not exist, the real problem remains, and a new problem will emerge. Chargebacks are complex; we help demystify the subject and provide simple, sustainable technology to solve the problem.
We can best be described as a technology platform provider with a connection hub – or API gateway. This allows us to aggregate multiple data sources and chargeback types, providing a “one-stop-shop” solution for our clients. For example, there are products on the market that help merchants anticipate and take steps to prevent chargebacks. There are products that offer to help merchants fight back against invalid chargebacks and recover funds. And there are products that offer data aggregation services for reporting and interpreting. We do all of that and more, through a single integration. But the vast amount of chargeback data, insight, and experience we have collected over the years also allows us to provide real-time analytics customized to the industry and merchant – redefining chargeback data from an unexpected liability to a rich analytic asset. And we provide this on a global scale. Merchant acquirers or PSPs can even white-label our merchant software suite. Plus, we offer an independent and fully integrated acquiring platform, developed specifically for financial institutions and branded as Fi911.
Q. What is your USP?
Well, again, I would go back to data. We have been collecting more data, from more resources, than anyone else in the industry. And we’re continually adding to this resource, using AI and machine learning to fine-tune what we have learned through experience. It allows us to continue bringing our clients more intelligent strategies for chargeback and dispute management. Anyone can see that the internet and eCommerce are revolutionizing the way payments are transacted. That’s fantastic, but we also need to be seeing that kind of innovation in the post-transaction environment, and we’re not. Our company functions as an advocate for the merchant and acquiring space, helping our clients cope with increasing volumes and complexities. That means supporting over 900 different file types and integrations, driving better decisions, and dramatically alleviating our clients’ (growing) FTE overheads. Simply stated, we can handle any size merchant, in any vertical or industry, with any level of complexity. We can offer more effective solutions due to our exclusive technology and datasets – and of course, our team of innovation experts, who are unmatched (if I do say so myself!). And we do it all without months-long setups or specific software or hardware.
Q. What is your attitude towards your competitors?
We welcome healthy competition. That said, we pride ourselves on the fact that Chargebacks911 is the only company moving the entire industry forward in this area. We’ve proven that merchants don’t have to just accept chargebacks as a cost of doing business. That is the old way of thinking. We’ve shown that the problem is much larger than just merchants, which is why some of the solutions we currently have in play benefit players across the entire industry – even if they’re not our client. And we’ll continue to forge ahead, championing methods that drive more efficient and effective data exchanges, for more intelligent dispute resolution.
Q. Let’s talk about the pandemic: did it have a noticeable effect on your company?
Very much so. The COVID-91 pandemic pushed more shoppers online, it curtailed overall spending, and it all but collapsed the travel industry. This combination led to a sudden and significant spike in chargebacks, and we’re still helping businesses deal with that. Arguably the biggest investment we made in product development over the last two years has been in decreasing integration times. We’ve rolled out new onboarding apps and super-charged our robotics technology, to be able to deliver near-immediate results to clients in crisis. We work closely with some of the largest brands in both retail and the payments space, so we’re in an excellent position to equip merchants and financial institutions with tools for managing this tsunami of chargebacks, and helping them prevent more future chargebacks. Like with every business, the pandemic also presented us with new operational challenges, as well as new opportunities to evolve and rethink our daily work lives. At the height of the pandemic the company was able to move to almost 100% remote and still service our clients and accomplish our missions with minimal negative impact. From this, we learned that when you have great people and great technologies, where you conduct your daily business is less important than it used to be. There are some benefits to in-office interactions and meetings, especially when it comes to innovation and brainstorming sessions. However, we’ve proven this can also be accomplished in a flexible, long- term hybrid work environment, which is where we have ultimately settled in.
Q. Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
The chargeback problem isn’t going away: shopping habits have been forever changed. I think of this era as the age of Consumer Entitlement – even my own expectations have evolved! Disputes will always exist between buyers and sellers, but the collision of technology innovation and consumer evolution has been a catalyst for change. We cannot create a better customer experience if we remove friction (to satisfy demands) but fail to upgrade supporting systems and technology (to prevent failure). Today, payments are faster, better, and smarter – there is no exception for post payment disputes. Cardholders want a fast checkout experience, but equally demand a friction-free dispute process. The current lack of standards and data transparency in the dispute and chargeback industry has created loopholes (that are being exploited), increased costs and liabilities, and mired legacy systems with latency. As the world becomes more digital, the need of uniform standards in the dispute and chargeback industry will grow. The eventual democratization of this part of the industry will bring much-needed transparency and scale – not only for payment cards, but for all payment methods equally. This is a big part of our vision and an exciting thing to be part of.
Meet the leader behind the success of Chargebacks911
Monica Eaton-Cardone is the Founder of Chargebacks911 and Fi911 and Chief Information Officer of Global Risk Technologies. Monica has worked tirelessly to educate both merchants and financial institutions about hidden threats in the rapidly changing payment fraud landscape. Her company, Chargebacks911, was founded in Tampa Bay, Florida. Over the last ten years, Chargebacks911 has successfully protected more than 10 billion online transactions and has recovered over $1 billion in chargeback fraud. Recognizing that the impact of chargebacks goes beyond merchants, Monica also created Fi911, providing innovative back-office management technologies for financial institutions. A passionate diversity advocate, Monica is committed to providing women opportunities in IT, helping kids appreciate their self-worth, and much more. She has earned numerous awards, distinctions, and special recognitions, including the Retail Systems Awards, where she received the ‘Outstanding Individual Achievement Award’ and was named ‘Global Leader of the Year’ at the Women in IT Awards.