Women in Payments and Fraud: Your Not so Secret Weapon!

We have been in the payments and fraud prevention industry long enough to be able to say with confidence that this work is incredibly rewarding and brimming with innovation. This space is full of impressive, smart people driving it forward and making the current ecosystem a super exciting place to be. In this piece, we focus on what attracts women to the Payments and Fraud prevention industry. Not just what it means to us as women, but what it takes to navigate it successfully. We will also highlight what makes women particularly suited for our industry and why this is so significant.

Why women?

In the recently published MRC Women in Payments and Fraud (WPF) survey results, 99% of respondents agreed that our industry is suitable for women. We would not expect anything else of course, and we have looked at the particular strengths and qualities women tend to have that make them particularly suited for and successful in this industry.

Payments and Fraud professionals tend to be smart and well educated.

Source: MRC WPF 2019 Survey

Individuals with an enterprising nature, a strong sense of initiative and drive, and the willingness to self-start also tend to do well in Payments and Fraud roles. Often, in your role as a Payments and Fraud analyst or manager, you are expected to oversee your daily workload independently and self-manage to a large degree. You need to dig deep into your data and identify risks, and opportunities for improvement and then come up with appropriate solutions. All the while ensuring that you are communicating clearly across the business and are seeing to it that the value of Payments Management and Fraud Prevention is understood — and recognized — by the business leaders in your company.

Not an easy feat!

As a Payments and Fraud analyst, you are going to be naturally curious, pay strong attention to detail, and can solve problems in several different ways. You are going to be risk averse but possess bloodhound-like qualities that, combined with intuition and training, will enable you to excel in your role. Typically, you will be a great communicator and team player. The greater good, which is protecting company revenue, will come above all else and contribute, to a large degree, to your daily motivation.

The industry’s joys and challenges

The MRC Women in Payments and Fraud survey shows that Fraud and Payments teams tend to be fairly small, with the majority of women in management roles managing teams of up to 5 people on average.

Source: MRC WPF 2019 Survey

This smaller team size lends itself to quite close relationships between the team leader and their team members, as well as natural mentorship. It may be easier to empower smaller teams. In our experience, smaller teams can often be close-knit, facilitating mutual support and strong bonds.

Working in fraud prevention and payments is hugely rewarding, particularly if you are able to measure the massive impact such a small team can have on the company’s bottom line. Job satisfaction can be immense.

Like many industries under the Tech umbrella, Payments and Fraud is not immune to gender disparities. The typical 70:30 gender ratio applies here, too, and women are often underrepresented, particularly in senior level positions.

Source: MRC WPF 2019 Survey

Leaders in our industry, men and women, need to recognize the challenges women still face today when it comes to their career and the lack of opportunities. Over 50% of respondents from the WPF survey stated that poor direct management and internal barriers and politics prevented their career growth. Respondents suggested that they did not feel that they were treated equally to their male peers, with one respondent commenting that she felt her opinions were not as valued as her male counterparts. Interestingly, personal responsibilities had the lowest percentage (12%), suggesting perhaps that combining work and family life is becoming more manageable today.

Source: MRC WPF 2019 Survey

One of the unique aspects of the Payments and Fraud industry is that most of us fell into it unexpectedly. Speak with anyone and they will always have a unique story to tell you about how they started out. A sudden realization that we possess some of the aforementioned qualities, perhaps nudged by a manager or colleague and a desire for a role where we can truly make a difference were often the driving factors. Interestingly, at a recent MRC Women in Payments and Fraud roundtable, discussing the pipeline of women into leadership roles, the majority of women at the table confirmed they started in customer support roles, the authors included.

“I was working in Customer Support at Amazon.com when one of my managers pointed out that my inquisitive nature, the accuracy and conscientiousness with which I completed all of my work, and my language skills (of all things!) might make me suitable for a position in the fraud team. I applied, and the rest is history.” 

Danièle Thillmann, SVP Head of Risk & DPO at Green Man Gaming Ltd.

Indeed, there is no set education path into this industry. This opens the path to career progression and creates opportunities, because you do not have to subscribe to one way of progression or smash through any ingrained and institutionalized barriers and bias (well, no more than usual). This freedom allows any doubt about how you “should” progress in this industry and your prescribed suitability for that next promotion to be sidelined.

Our responsibilities

As (women) leaders in our industry, we have a duty to:

  • Support and promote — It is encouraging to see a number of events already taking place in our industry that are designed to promote certain roles and responsibilities specifically for women, such as the Mastercard Girls4Tech event. Taking small steps, such as approaching the organizers of our own company’s graduate or apprenticeship program and involving our Payments or Fraud teams could be worthy endeavors. Championing these changes does not need to be an onerous task.
  • Educate and lead the way — There is still a perception out there that these roles are “typically” better suited to men. We need to dispel that myth, make ourselves heard in the industry and step forward. Take the opportunities that present themselves, even if you feel a little out of your comfort zone. Be the first one to ask a question in the room and be noticed. Say yes to the presentation at work in front of your peers (even if it freaks you out a little).
  • Inspire — Encourage women to take up Payments and Fraud roles and cheer them on! Initiatives such as the Women in Payments and Fraud chapter of the MRC (Merchant Risk Council) are of paramount importance. Showcasing women in leadership roles is the number one reason why women attend these events, but in general, this is where women come together to learn from each other, motivate and energize each other, and find the tools and support they need to continue to rise in their careers.

Source: MRC WPF 2019 Survey
  • Mentor and sponsor other women — This is a big one! It is important to highlight the challenges women face in this industry, but it is even more indispensable that women mentor other women. Champion your rising stars and give them the boost they deserve. Pay it forward in any way you can. Take someone under your wing and guide them through their challenges, praise them for a job well done, encourage them, and fuel their confidence. Make sure they get that promotion for which they have worked so hard.

Article originally published on MRC.

Co-authored with Gill WellsGroup Product Manager @ Adyen | Women in Payments & Fraud Co-Chair