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Mitigating Fraud, Safeguarding Merchants Amidst Digital Shift

The year 2020 will forever be remembered as a year of considerable change, one that has pushed people and commerce into extremes never before seen in the history of the world. 

Interestingly enough, at the advent of this year, our unemployment rate was enjoying a notably low rate. It was only at 3.6 percent. The GDP was increasing at a robust pace. Businesses, both large and small operations were also growing at a healthy rate. 

Suddenly, the COVID-19 pandemic, originally unique to China, hit us stateside, leaving everyone completely blindsided. With subsequent lockdowns, social distancing measures followed. Businesses were forced to shut down and daily lives completely altered. Between the months of January and April, an alarming 20 million Americans lost their jobs. 

More change was upon us. With businesses finding themselves without profit, the GDP collapsed in double-digit percentages. Many were forced to work from home. According to, 144 million consumers have completely shifted to online shopping. This change is predicted to be permanent. This has also forced many businesses to shift their brick and mortar operations entirely online. 

As More Consumers Flock Online, Businesses Must Up Their Cybersecurity Game

Thanks to the pandemic, millions of consumers are turning to purchase online, yet the digital space is replete with potential fraud. Fraudsters have become quite adept in taking advantage of vulnerable and insecure websites. However, the majority of these risks originate from a “lack of cyber hygiene”, using poor passwords, utilizing out-dated software, or clicking on links that are unsafe. 

Other potential threats that loom in the digital horizon include “credential stuffing”, synthetic IDs, and account takeovers. 

To attack this issue, Mohamed Abdelsadek, Executive Vice President of North America services for Mastercard suggests that all digital environments should be protected through a “layered approach”. It is one that protects the environment and customers before, during, and after the payment transaction is made. He refers to this as a “connected intelligence”. It is based on the idea that businesses must secure the digital environment without generating any friction for consumers. In addition, it requires a “data collaboration approach” between issuers and merchants to allow higher payment approval rates and less fraud. 

Looking into the future, cyber threats may not look too different from what is currently being witnessed today. However, the volume of traffic online as well as the human element will be dictating the absolute need for developing a “secure digital ecosystem”. 

Merchants must become acutely aware of possible cyber threats internally as well as those found in third-party vendors, and internal stakeholders. Additionally, employees must be educated on prevention through the creation of “cyber hygiene programs.” Collaboration with essential stakeholders on the optimization of “decisioning” at the point of sale will also be critical. 

Since small businesses have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, Mastercard is assisting its partners by granting them access to cybersecurity resources to protect their systems today and in the future. Back in April, Mastercard committed $250 million over the next five years to support businesses in the US and other markets. The support comes in the form of access to all important resources to protect both their businesses and employees, using “cyber vulnerability assessments” and identity theft protection. 

The Future Ahead

Businesses of all sizes and industries must remain agile and vigilant during these difficult times ahead. With the number of consumers using the internet to purchase their needs, the volume of online purchases are only expected to grow, even post-pandemic.

If businesses want to remain in business, the answer is clear, they must be ready to invest and build both robust and resilient cybersecurity programs to combat the growing number of cyberattacks.