Steve Goddard, SME joins the MRC European Advisory Board


Featurespace is delighted to announce that its own Steve Goddard, Fraud and Financial Crime Subject Matter Expert (SME), has been selected to join the prestigious European Advisory Board of the Merchant Risk Council (MRC).

The MRC is a global membership organisation connecting eCommerce fraud and payments professionals through educational programs, online forums, career development, conferences, and networking events. And MRC boards are comprised of senior professionals from key member organisations with the goal of guiding the MRC. Founded as a passion project from payments fraud professionals it has grown into a leading voice in digital commerce, fostering collaboration at every stage of the purchasing journey and payments ecosystem, to ensure the best possible customer experience.

As Steve readies to join the board on July 1st, we sat down to ask him why he’s so excited to join the board.

What made you ready to apply to the MRC board?

I’ve worked in payments fraud and financial crime prevention and investigation for nearly twenty years holding a range of positions at banks, merchants, payment processors and technology companies. My specialism over the past eight years has been combining the potential of AI and machine learning with the specific needs of payments fraud prevention. Having worked as a fraud analyst at one of the largest ecommerce travel booking sites in Europe, I’ve seen first-hand how challenging it can be to analyse fraud trends using traditional methods. My focus now is on assisting merchants and payments organisations to leverage machine learning models to make that analysis more efficient and effective. Maintaining the customer experience alongside protecting both merchants and their customers from fraud is the key. My experience across both fraud and financial crime has given me a unique perspective on the challenges for these teams within merchants and PSPs in terms of orchestrating communication and action plans across all areas of the business, liaising with law enforcement, and designing the right strategies for each merchant to protect themselves and their customers.

I’m now part of a global team of Subject Matter Experts who advise issuers, acquirers, PSPs, fintechs, merchants, payment networks, regulators, and governments on how to leverage technology to prevent fraud and financial crime. I bring my experience from my time in the field to inform our product strategy and platform developments to ensure they meet the needs of the industry, keeping my finger on the pulse of fraud trends, solving problem statements relating to financial fraud, and representing the voice of merchants and other customers into Featurespace.

What appealed to you about the mission of the MRC?

Too many industry initiatives focus on gathering data gathering after the fact rather than designing strategies to prevent fraud before it happens.

The collaborative approach of MRC in how it brings together all members of the payment ecosystem is both unique and special. Many initiatives see merchants as outside of the payments system participants and operators and underestimate the knowledge within the merchant sector when it comes to preventing fraud, and the commitment both from a business and societal perspective. Merchants within MRC are not simply looking to shift liability for fraud, even if regulatory changes permit it, they are actively seeking to solve the problem of growing fraud risk.

I had seen how MRC is working to close the gap between issuers and merchants, such as through its Slack channel for merchants to discuss with issuing banks and workshop live issues during the implementation of PSD2 and Strong Customer Authentication. I am excited to be a part of that drive to promote collaboration that spans the whole payment landscape.

What unique skills or perspectives do you bring to the MRC European board?

I have been at the forefront of leveraging AI and machine learning to combat payments fraud for nearly eight years, perhaps ahead of the industry curve. I have worked with all the most forward-thinking merchants and PSPs to not only test and optimise machine learning models for fraud prevention, but to operationalise the use of them within fraud prevention teams and organisations. Often in payments, what holds us back is not the advancement of technology but the challenges of implementing it into complex and highly regulated environments.

I have been in fraud teams at banks, merchants and in managed services for merchants working the alerts at the front line and supporting merchants on developing their rules and strategies. At Featurespace, I now specialise in supporting issuing banks and merchant acquirers to develop their AI and machine-learning based products at merchant level that truly bring fraud strategies to market and to life.

As a fraud market SME my role is quite unique within vendors. At Featurespace our SMEs come from the industry to ensure they can represent the voice of the customer. My team is driven by a desire to stop fraud. I’m focused on educating solution providers to better understand how to constructively help the industry, not just sell their solutions. I provide the customer voice within the organisation and see the MRC board as a way to advocate for this approach. My role and customers are global, so I can bring the macro view of industry level trends, and lessons learned from other geographies on how to tackle them. The success of the MRC mission relies on as many experiences as possible collaborating on how best to stop fraud, and I am excited to channel the voices of my customers and experiences into this mission.

As a machine learning specialist with a background in merchant payments fraud, I bring the needs of merchants to our data science and product teams to help ensure that models do not create unfair bias against smaller or niche merchants. Helping them to understand the merchant landscape means that machine learning inventions can be more properly tuned to merchant needs. Traditional consortium models are often weighted towards the largest merchants, issuers, or acquirers in the group. Through my work and through the MRC I would like to help surface the voice of niche or smaller participants and how it can be productised into models that benefit the whole merchant segment.

How does Featurespace collaborate with the MRC?

Featurespace is a long-time member of MRC and collaborates within the community to produce thought leadership and educational content that answers the most pressing questions on payments fraud prevention. I am active in the development of that content, ensuring we support the industry to educate itself and its end customers.

Featurespace originated in the merchant space, supporting gaming customers to prevent fraud. As we’ve grown, we have recognised the importance of bringing our unique perspective to the intersection of payments and fraud professionals, to ensure that new technologies like machine learning, deep learning, adaptive analytics, and more are well understood and applied within the industry.

Discover more about how Featurespace and its SMEs are collaborating to combat fraud in European payments.

Read the white paper


To find out more about the work of the MRC, visit the website.