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Online Travel Agency

In 2016, one of the largest online travel agents in Latin America noticed that their rule-based fraud solution could not cope with the pace of the company’s bold expansion anymore. The OTA reached out to Nethone and has been continuously benefiting from that decision since.

Overview

Accepting payments carried out by customers from many different time zones, using diverse payment methods and holding cards issued by many different banks makes effective risk management an extremely challenging task. The featured client operates on multiple markets, helping thousands of travellers plan, book, and buy their dream holidays and business trips. In the travel business, each erroneous approval results in a painfully costly chargeback and each false positive equals a noticeable income loss. While scaling up, the client realised that their previous fraud solution was unable to cope with the pace of the company’s development anymore. The high manual review rate was hampering sales, yet the side effect was not balanced by reduced chargeback rate. The OTA’s risk team needed a smart solution that would enable truly accurate real-time detection of fraud attempts without interfering with the flow of healthy transactions. The desired system had to be capable of issuing risk assessment recommendations in real time and with superb accuracy. The goal was to simultaneously streamline risk management processes and significantly increase their effectiveness. Nethone took up the challenge with great excitement.

Challenges

High chargeback rate

The average chargeback rate the company had been facing prior to implementing Nethone was as high as dangerously high. Expanding into new markets required immediate addressing of that issue as without an effective fraud tool those could possibly bring even more chargebacks, instead of generating profits.

Diversity of target markets

Handling risk while targeting diversified markets requires an outstanding flexibility of the fraud tool used to automate the process. The rule-based solution the company had been applying prior to integrating with Nethone was clearly lacking that feature. Certain sets of rules recognized as effective on some markets did not work at all under different circumstances.

Very high deny and manual review rates

With an extremely high denial rate, the OTA was continually losing potential customers and due to numerous manual reviews it was unable to effectively increase sales. Slashing both was a prerequisite of further expansion.

Complexity of local consumer habits

Latin America is one of the most diversified macro-markets in terms of consumer habits. The variety of payment methods and the occurrence of numerous country-specific economic anomalies require in-depth understanding of each specific national market. The client needed an effective tool to examine each targeted market and adjust their risk management operating model to the specific local conditions.

Solution

The goals defined by the client could be achieved only through deep understanding of each single user as well as the broad context of their interactions with the OTA. In fact, it required understanding of the entire user flow, not only the payment-associated information.

Custom Machine Learning models designed to automatically detect fraud attempts in real time

Nethone’s team created custom models to analyse historical and live customer data flowing through the OTA’s system. The models helped to discover links and interdependencies between numerous apparently unrelated factors, and “learned” to predict future fraud attempts.

Custom Machine Learning models designed to investigate target markets

Besides the fraud-detection models, Nethone’s data scientists created special market investigation models - trained to examine, analyse and “understand” the markets targeted by the OTA, regardless of their complexity.

Intuitive and powerful analytical panel

Nethone has provided the client with a special analytical panel, making manual reviewing easy and effortless. The panel enables obtaining of all the information required for transaction legitimacy assessment with no need to switch between tens of data sources, as done by the risk team in the past.

Results

The implementation of Nethone brought spectacular results. Thanks to an outstanding accuracy of the fraud tool, both the manual review rate and the chargeback rate have been reduced by 70%. The deny rate has been reduced by 55% while the approval rate increased by 27%. In other words, the OTA started to sell more with much lower chargeback burden and higher than ever cost effectiveness achieved through the reduction of costs associated with manual reviewing. Moreover, thanks to Nethone, the travel agent has streamlined their risk management processes and eliminated the “72 hours to departure restriction”, which was formerly held due to a high level of fraud occurring among late bookings. Furthermore, the company has successfully expanded into numerous new markets, including the US and Europe.

Approval rate

+27%

Manual review rate

-70%

Deny rate

-55%

Chargeback rate

-70%

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