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My Experience at MRC Vegas 2018

I recently had the opportunity to attend MRC Vegas 2018 for the first time in many years. When I attended Merchant Risk Council meetings in the past, I was a fraud executive with one of the largest U.S. banks. I had found MRC to be a good event for networking and gaining a better understanding of the fraud-related concerns of the bank’s commercial clients.

This was my first experience attending MRC as an industry research analyst. I cover fraud and data security issues for Aite Group; most of my coverage is from a banking perspective, but I wanted to learn more about the challenges merchants are facing in today’s environment. I also wanted to understand how merchants’ fraud and risk challenges compare with those experienced by financial institutions.

From sessions I attended, I learned that there are more similarities than differences between the fraud challenges faced by merchants and those faced by financial institutions. Organized crime rings are committing fraud against merchants just as they are against banks, and fraud professionals in both sectors must work hard to approve transactions to satisfy their good customers while trying to detect and deny fraudulent transactions. Tools such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are being used by many, but they are no silver bullet. As always, layers of security are needed to supply the best protection. The luncheon I attended entitled “Warrior Women in Fraud Prevention” was exceptional, with great speakers emphasizing the need to mentor young women, helping them grow in their careers. 

The sessions I attended were high-quality, but I confess I spent more time in the exhibit hall, where I talked with many risk solution providers to learn more about their product offerings, and I asked several exhibitors at the event about their experience and thoughts related to MRC Vegas 2018. Fortunately, I learned that my own impressions were shared by many others. While MRC isn’t the largest risk conference you can attend, it is one of the most worthwhile. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and while the number of conversations may be lower than at some events, they are of a much higher quality. The mood is not frenzied or rushed at all, and conference police are not positioned outside the exhibit hall to ensure nobody can enter except for during very narrow windows of time. Yes, they check your badge and may require an exhibitor to come meet you at the entrance, but they allow business to be conducted.

The lasting impression I took away from MRC Vegas 2018 was that it was rewarding and enjoyable; in fact, I am hoping to attend again in 2019. I highly recommend that you consider it as well if you are a merchant or risk solution provider.