Web Shield – Planet Compliance RegTech Interview (2021)

Let’s start with a brief introduction, what can you tell us about Web Shield and your RegTech offering?  

Web Shield is a leading RegTech company offering real-time on-boarding and risk-based monitoring solutions.

Since 2011, card acquirers and payment processors worldwide have looked to Web Shield to supply exceptionally fast on-boarding and compliance solutions. Our high-end SaaS solutions are modular, which means organizations can adapt them to their individual risk appetite and compliance requirements. They are also flexible enough to take account of the fast-changing and increasingly complex regulatory environment worldwide.

Web Shield also operates the Web Shield Academy, an educational programme for underwriters. All the in-person courses are led by experienced risk professionals and are full of hands-on case studies. 2020 saw the launch of complementary Online Academy courses, which enables underwriters to continue their professional development remotely in spite of pandemic restrictions.

Since 2017, we have also been staging RiskConnect, the annual networking conference for anti-fraud, compliance and risk professionals, to encourage cooperation across the industry.

What are some of the biggest challenges your solutions you solve for your clients?

The constant challenge for our clients – mostly acquirers – is that acquirers providing card acceptance facilities to merchants are financially and legally responsible for their merchants’ transactions at the time of the sale and in the future under card scheme rules. Acquirers must ensure their merchants process only legal card sales in both the buyer’s and seller’s country. The cross-border nature of e-commerce introduces new risks in this regard, so deciding which merchants to on-board is crucial.

Our InvestiGate and Monitor solutions are built to make the underwriting and monitoring of merchants and their websites as efficient as possible, so acquirers and payment service providers know who they are on-boarding.

In addition, the industry is dynamic and changes to national, regional or card scheme regulations can have a significant impact on acquirers. Risk management professionals need to keep abreast of trends and external risks for competitive advantage.

That’s also the reason why we created our RiskConnect networking conference and the Web Shield Academy. We want to encourage continuous education, the exchange of knowledge and cooperation across the industry.

Could you give us a use case of why a client came to you and how they are using your solution to solve their particular challenge? 

One of our merchant acquirer clients found that an initial manual investigation of an online merchant took them on average 1h 23min and cost them between €46.72 and €88.09 (average €55.99). They came to us looking for a way to cut the time and cost of on-boarding merchants.

Using our InvestiGate platform, the moment a merchant’s data is entered, our research engine starts by indicating all the important red flags for them. The whole process can be done in seven minutes and costs €15 at most.

That means our system lowers the on-boarding costs for our customer by 72%.

And in the time an underwriter takes to manually review a merchant, InvestiGate completes nearly 12 merchant investigations. In fact, the system can handle thousands of queries per hour, compared to an individual underwriter, who can on-board a maximum of five merchants per day.

Therefore, our customers can generally on-board more merchants faster and cheaper, using the same team. What’s more, they can maintain a merchant portfolio that is monitored periodically and complies with card association rules.

Our solutions also mitigate the tangible and intangible risks that might come with non-compliance, such as permanent damage to our customer business’ reputation, lawsuits brought by consumers or even the permanent loss of license.

How would you describe the differences between your offering from others in your RegTech category?

Compared with other merchant underwriting products in the market, our InvestiGate solution is characterised by:

  • Ease-of-use and speed: InvestiGate cuts underwriting times significantly while also reducing the associated costs by almost 72%. For our customers, this means near real-time on-boarding at an affordable price.
  • Flexible, optional modules: Every merchant has a unique profile. With the InvestiGate and Monitor solutions, underwriters can adapt every investigation and monitoring regime to their organisation’s requirements for a truly risk-based approach to building and maintaining their portfolio.
  • Long-term Risk Management: While on-boarding with InvestiGate is thorough, yet quick, Monitor secures the long-term viability of a portfolio. Only acquirers that know the risks connected with the merchants in their portfolio can find ways to mitigate them.

Technology is important in the fight against financial crime. Yet for a RegTech company, Web Shield recognises that even the best automated systems can be compromised if the staff using them are not adequately trained. This is why Web Shield has always placed huge emphasise on education and training across the ecosystem with its Web Shield Academy training courses and annual networking conference, RiskConnect.

Due to the global pandemic a lot has changed in the world in the last year. How has your company changed in the in the last 12 months?

During the coronavirus pandemic, for the safety of our delegates, speakers and staff we delivered RiskConnect 2020, our biggest event of the year, virtually. It featured the same lively mix of keynote speakers, panel debates and thought leaders from across the payments industry but was – and still is – accessible via our online platform.

We also launched the Web Shield Online Academy. Designed to supplement our range of in-person courses, this allows students to learn in their own time, at their own pace, anywhere with an internet connection. The content is both digital and modular, meaning clients can deliver training throughout the year, including when they hire new staff, part-time, temporary or contract workers, or when they need to repeat training.

Clients can train a large, dispersed workforce more efficiently and cost-effectively than with classroom-based training, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic when many staff are working from home. Currently there are four courses available, and more are planned for 2021.

Can you tell us about some of your most recent achievements or milestones you’ve reached?

The Stevie Awards recognise the accomplishments and contributions of innovative companies worldwide. Our InvestiGate solution won the Gold Stevie Award 2018 for the best new product in the Risk & Compliance Solutions category. Our AddressReveal service won the Gold Stevie Award for the same category the following year.

We also saw success at the Stevie Awards in 2021. Our Online Academy won the Gold Stevie Award 2021 for Virtual Learning Solutions.

What drives you as company? What is Web Shield’s long-term vision?

The payment ecosystem is under permanent threat from bad actors peddling illegal or fraudulent goods and services. Acquiring banks and payment service providers are the gatekeepers of this space. Their risk, compliance and underwriting departments decide which merchants to enable with credit card acceptance. If they ignore this responsibility, they leave themselves open to fines from credit card associations and regulators as well as reputational damage. What’s more, law enforcement agencies have recently prosecuted not only criminal merchants, but also their enablers – be they complicit or merely negligent.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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