Equifax, a global data, analytics, and technology company, acquired Kount, a fraud prevention and digital identity trust solution provider in 2021, as well as Midigator, a technology platform for dispute response automation and chargeback analysis in 2022. These acquisitions allow Equifax to bolster its ability to provide businesses with secure online experiences and real-time insights into chargeback issues. Equifax is working to integrate Kount and Midigator technologies, enabling its customers to enhance consumer experiences and effectively protect and recover revenue.
But in what ways will the acquisition of Kount and Midigator help Equifax offer innovative solutions that protect against digital fraud and establish accurate trust levels in real-time, while delivering personalized and seamless customer experiences in the evolving e-commerce and consumer finance industry?
David True, Commercial Director at the Payments Consulting Network, recently caught up with Brad Wiskirchen, the founding CEO of Kount, and Adam Gunther, incoming Senior Vice President and General Manager for the Equifax Digital Solutions team to discuss the opportunities and advantages brought by this shift.
Brad has been in the business of providing trust and safety technology to merchants for many years, starting with Kount in 2007. Adam has twenty years of experience in technology, focusing on digital identity and fraud since 2017. With the 2021 Kount acquisition by Equifax and the 2022 addition of Midigator, the Digital Solutions team at Equifax was born. And this combination broadens the services that can be offered to merchants worldwide.
What are those services? What does each entity bring to the game? How did they get to where they are today and where are they going? Those questions informed David’s conversation with Brad and Adam. Let’s dive in.
DT: Please provide a brief high-level overview of your business.
BW: Kount is a SaaS-based technology that falls under the solutions portfolio of the Digital Solutions team at Equifax, which is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Launched in 2007 as a standalone company, Kount actually dates back to the late nineties, from our sister company, Clickbank. Clickbank is an affiliate marketing company that was experiencing first and third-party fraud. And at the time there was no solution on the market. So, we built a fraud control solution for Clickbank, and soon realized that such a solution could be a standalone product. That standalone product became Kount.
DT: What payment services do you offer and in what geographies?
BW: With its global presence operating across 25 countries, the Digital Solutions team at Equifax delivers leading trust and safety technology that helps businesses grow with complete confidence. The solutions portfolio includes fraud detection and prevention, identity verification, chargeback management, and regulatory compliance. The portfolio also includes Kount’s flexible, award-winning AI and machine learning that empowers businesses to make safe, accurate decisions to best fit their needs.
DT: Are there any industry sectors or client types that you focus on?
BW: We cater to over 75 industries, but a few of focus include eCommerce, financial institutions, gaming and streaming, health and insurance, travel, leisure, automotive, and entertainment.
DT: What do you see as your key strengths?
BW: Kount was one of the first trust and safety providers to enter the market. With over a decade more data than our competitors, we have the ability to create solutions that more accurately detect fraud with much more agility.
Kount had already been known for the first data device collector and proxy piercing patents. Now as part of Equifax, we have a number of patents specializing in fraud prevention technology, including the first device fingerprinting patent – and we own and control our entire technical stack. With our combined patented technologies and extensive experience in data science, we are able to provide a wide array of solutions that allows our clients to consolidate vendors and decrease their cost of ownership and maintenance of multiple point products. Kount was also the first in the market to leverage artificial intelligence in the evaluation of fraudulent transactions – we have been doing AI since before it was cool. Equifax has about 70 approved AI patents supporting areas such as AI neurodecision technology (NDT) and explainable AI.
“Bringing pre-authorization and post-authorization solutions from Equifax, Kount and Midigator together into a cohesive solution offering is helping our customers reduce the number of vendors needed to solve their fraud needs.”- Brad Wiskirchen, founding CEO of Kount, an Equifax Company
DT: What do you see as your key differentiators with your competitors?
BW: A key differentiator is how multidimensional our data is. We’re evaluating and contextualizing hundreds of different data points for each interaction. We then consume those data points across our Identity Trust Global Network, comprised of hundreds of global companies in different industries, different geographies and of different sizes. Our model, which includes shared relationships with over 50 payment processors and leading financial institutions, allows us to ingest all the unique data from those organizations, further growing the breadth and depth of the data available within our Identity Trust Global Network. We then make that data available in real-time for accurate transaction decision making.
DT: What were your key achievements over the last 12 months?
BW: The acquisition of Midigator in 2022 enhanced the Equifax Digital Solutions team’s ability to offer complete end-to-end coverage of the customer journey. Bringing pre-authorization and post-authorization solutions from Equifax, Kount and Midigator together into a cohesive solution offering is helping our customers reduce the number of vendors needed to solve their fraud needs.
Over the last 12-18 months, we created Kount 360, which is built on the Equifax Cloud, to promote more innovation and growth using the new data at our fingertips. Internationally, our global team is focused on key regions—offering the same accessibility to our products wherever possible. Additionally, we just announced our complete white label and SSO solution for chargeback management, which will allow our PSP (Payment Service Provider) and Merchant Acquirer customers to have a robust solution to help more effectively manage disputes and chargebacks all within their existing merchant portal.
DT: Midigator was purchased by Equifax nearly a year ago. As incoming GM for the Digital Solutions team, can you tell us some of the enhancements to your business as a result of the acquisition and integration and some of the challenges?
AG: The acquisition of Midigator was strategic for Equifax. The primary driver for this was to enhance our existing chargeback management solutions by adding Midigator’s advanced prevention and recovery tools. This has allowed us to “complete the swing” in a complete fraud prevention offering which covers the end-to-end customer journey.
With every technology acquisition comes several challenges, each different in nature. Consolidation of the many solutions at our disposal and leveraging the massive amounts of data throughout the Equifax network creates a significant challenge, but it is also a main source of our innovation and differentiation. We continue to invest in our technology and product teams to continue to innovate and drive success for our customers.
Over the last 12 months, we have made several enhancements to our solutions. These include building out a connection that integrates Kount Command transactional data with Midigator chargeback representments tool. This enables merchants to more effectively challenge disputes and comply with the new Compelling Evidence 3.0 requirements from Visa.
DT: Give us some success stories you have had with your merchant clients? Platforms? PayFacs?
AG: We can categorize it depending on the involved parties:
When we talk to merchants, we hear common complaints: Chargebacks are costly. Chargebacks are confusing. Chargebacks are labor intensive.
So, a lot of our biggest successes have come about because of Midigator’s unique differentiators – specifically our technology, data, and expertise that deals with these pain points.
We automate time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks, addressing two of the biggest and most pressing concerns for merchants – chargebacks are costly and labor intensive. On average, our technology reduces the time spent fighting chargebacks by 84% and cuts labor costs by 45%. Combine that with an average win rate increase of 117% and merchants have an average ROI of 914%.
Our data and expertise are also hugely beneficial. The most effective and accurate chargeback management strategies have data analysis at the foundation. Using data, you can solve problems at their source. Without data to support claims and issues, you’re making hunches, guesses, and assumptions. Because we have more data than any other service provider and with dozens of years of experience, we can help merchants draw educated conclusions they never could have come to on their own.
The Digital Solutions team at Equifax maintains a strategic focus on the partner space, specifically with payment service providers from different categories such as PayFacs, Gateways, Processors, Acquirers, etc. Through these partnerships, we build out fraud strategies that work best with their business, ensuring a seamless experience for their merchants.
DT: What innovations do you have on your product/service roadmap for the next 12 months?
AG: While we will be focusing on many things, a quick breakdown of some of our plans includes:
- Consolidation and interoperability across Equifax/Kount/Midigator products via Kount 360 (identity verification, payments/ecommerce fraud, KYC, AML solutions, etc.)
- Passwordless authentication
- Acquirer and payment service provider solutions
- Innovation of new fraud scoring and machine learning
The overall strategy is to align our products and solutions for global deployment via a robust platform that will be delivered with a single API. Businesses will benefit from this strategy through the realization of seamless integration with their tech stack, allowing them to leverage best-in-class identity and fraud prevention capabilities in addition to achieving operational efficiency.
“5% of CEOs have a fraud problem, 100% have a revenue problem. You solve the revenue problem by eliminating friction in digital interactions, which improves conversion rates… And that improved conversion rate translates into improved revenue.” -Adam Gunther, incoming Senior Vice President and General Manager, Equifax Digital Solutions
DT: What industry changes or trends do you see occurring over the next 2-3 years that will have a major impact on your business and/or your clients?
AG: The recent and frequent advances in AI, specifically generative AI, will make a large impact on the world including fraud detection and prevention. While we already leverage advanced AI, as well as supervised and unsupervised machine learning, in our identity and fraud solutions today, it is essential for us to remain at the technological forefront of this trend. From implementing new ways to detect when AI is used to try and exploit a system to using it to streamline data processes, our organization will continue to be proactive when dealing with key issues. We are staying very close to the developments of AI and continue to look for ways to innovate along with the market.
A key component of the AI conversation is the proliferation of AI tools and how accessible they are to the masses. With so many AI tools available for the general public, they are also available for the bad guys. While we have full teams devoted to AI advances and staying ahead of the fraud trends, the bad guys have effectively leveled the playing field by using the AI tools at their disposal.
DT: What key criteria or features should a business consider when evaluating a fraud prevention provider?
BW: With different options available, one has to think about these factors when thinking about getting a provider to help with fraud prevention:
- Ease of integration
- Does the technology work? POCs (Proof of concept)
- Does it save you time?
- Does it keep your merchants on your platform longer – CLTV – client lifetime value
- Does it improve your customer experience?
- Do they help you accelerate your revenue growth by providing deep data insights into your consumers?
DT: What is the single most important point for our readers to remember?
AG: It is imperative that any business operating digitally must have a cohesive fraud strategy across the entire user journey. Having point solutions or only attempting to stop fraud at the point of purchase is no longer sufficient to protect your business and your customers.
If you are collecting and creating data about the consumer for fraud prevention at checkout, you are doing yourself a disservice. You must move up within the customer journey so you can have more actionable insights to help you not only prevent fraud, but to also increase your ability to engage with your consumers in new ways.
The significance of data analysis and chargeback management has become even more pronounced in today’s landscape. It is imperative for businesses to pinpoint the root causes accurately, allowing them to address issues at their source.
About the Author: David True, Commercial Director, New York, Payments Consulting Network
With over 30 years in consumer payments across issuers, networks, merchants, processors, and FinTechs, David brings a wealth of experience in payments strategy, marketing, new products, loyalty, operations, and finance. He is a partner at PayGility Advisors, leads NYPAY.org and is a member of the US Payments Forum and US Faster Payments Council. David advises fintech startups and private equity portfolio companies specialising in creating new revenue streams and reducing risk.
Kount and Midigator are both members of our Fraud and Chargeback Management Panel.
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