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Interviews

Fraud challenges in global expansion – Lessons from Travian Games

Wednesday 15 November 2017 | 08:06 AM CET

Andie G. Ioó, Senior Payment and Fraud Manager, at Travian Games: Each region of the world presents varying fraud levels and trends, which can be identified through active investigation and research by a dedicated fraud team

This interview was first published in the Online Payments and Ecommerce Market Guide 2017, our flagship publication analyzing the latest trends in the payments ecosystem. Readers who enjoyed this interview are invited to download the guide, which offers multiple insights from industry experts.

In the gaming industry, managing fraud and payments can be difficult. With over 130 million users in 200 countries, Travian Games is well acquainted with these challenges and diligently works to anticipate and overcome them.

What have been the biggest challenges for payments and fraud when expanding internationally at the scale of Travian Games?

We have recently begun publishing games for external partners and, in this case, not knowing the customer base and fraud trends for a new type of game has been the biggest challenge.

"...not knowing the customer base and fraud trends for a new type of game has been the biggest challenge..."

It is always difficult to ascertain right away what sort of difficulties you will come across when moving into new areas of operation. Friendly fraud is an issue that may sometimes appear months into a new integration – and all of a sudden.

When having mostly dealt with obvious fraud trends up to that point, it is challenging to foresee and deal with other immediate threats. Overall, it is a matter of pinpointing a problem and putting safety mechanisms into place to prevent it from appearing again. In this market, learning from challenges and exercising prevention is very important.

What makes a PSP suitable for a partnership with you? What do you expect from your PSP partners in payment processing and beyond?

When choosing a payments provider, we look at what is relevant to our company and customers. The most important aspect is reach – payment services and methods must be accessible to all of our customers and they must cover their needs with the highest level of usability and security.

"We also look for a provider that can offer us services in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible." 

We also look for a provider that can offer us services in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. Therefore, the fees a provider charges are very significant. Other important factors are the speed of integration and the level of service support that we receive afterwards.

What alternative payment methods are most popular in online gaming?

This largely depends on the country in question. In many parts of the world, standard payment methods such as credit card and PayPal are very popular and most of our customers are happy using those payment methods. However, in countries such as Brazil, Hungary or Poland, users have requested alternative payment methods they know and trust such as e-wallets, bank transfers or prepaid cards. If possible and sensible, we try to offer our customers the best payment experience by analysing such requests and making an informed decision.

With over 130 million users in over 200 countries, what insights can you share with us regarding fraud challenges across different regions?

When moving into new regions and developing a new game, a fraud team must investigate possible pitfalls and deal with challenges never encountered before. For us these challenges would be: identifying a fraud problem, analysing the impact it has on the company and putting in place measures to reduce financial losses.

The game model directly impacts fraud levels, as for free-to-play games fraud monitoring differs from client-based games and player behaviour can vastly vary. The player audience (age and country of origin) is also an important factor to consider when mapping out a strategy for combating potential fraud.

"The game model directly impacts fraud levels, as for free-to-play games fraud monitoring differs from client-based games" 

Since player’ behaviour differs from country to country, predicting this behaviour in part and anticipating data manipulation is crucial in defending ourselves against fraud. In countries such as Brazil, buyers’ remorse and family members sharing credit cards is an issue, as the claim that someone else in the family made an unauthorised purchase is accepted by issuing banks and chargebacks easily created. In the MENA region however, we encounter more obvious fraud, translating into credit card testing by fraudsters, something we can see and which sets a precedent to help us fight fraud in the future.

What kind of new developments in online authentication and fraud detection are you currently watching?

With the introduction of PSD2, we must change the way we look at payments. We are watching the development of this directive and are working to ensure that it impacts our business and customers in the most positive way possible, while offering strong authentication and security. In order to better protect against online fraud, we are also interested in 3D Secure transactions and how to best make use of this technology for our customers.

Furthermore, we are looking at fraud detection tools, which will help us deal with friendly fraud in a more efficient way. It is important to find new ways of calling out customers who use friendly fraud to hold on to both their products and money – this involves pulling up information regarding their purchase history and working with the issuing banks to prevent chargebacks.

About Andie G. Ioó:

As a Senior Payment and Fraud Manager with 5 years’ experience, Andie has gained meaningful insight into the world of e-payments and fraud, understanding the correlation between the two sides of online payments. Having a deep interest in identifying and tracing suspicious or high risk transactions/behaviour, Andie looks to staying ahead of the game on all payments related fraud trends.

About Travian Games:

Headquartered in Munich, Travian Games GmbH is a world-renowned developer of online games and publishing partner for the MMORPG games Crowfall and Shroud of the Avatar. The company supports major international and local payment methods all over the world, while its product portfolio is translated into 42 languages, therefore catering to a very large audience.

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