Brick and mortar businesses do not change their product mix and business practices too often, mainly because it's prohibitively expensive. It would be quite costly for a restaurant to morph into a book store. However, Internet-based merchants can change their products, marketing materials and even their entire business with just the click of a mouse. Most on-line merchants that change their product mix do so slowly and abide by the networks' rules. However, many are unaware of the rules, or don't fully read or understand their merchant agreements, while others are simply deceptive. With the vast number of on-line merchants these days and the complexity of managing these ever-changing businesses, it is necessary to deploy sophisticated tools to minimize an acquirer's exposure. These tools are called Web Content Monitoring Services, or Web Crawlers, and they are a mission-critical tool for acquirers that service Internet-based merchants.
Web Crawlers aid in fraud prevention, regulatory compliance and brand protection. Prospective merchants, for example, may intend to engage in the sale of illicit or age-restricted materials. In addition to being illegal, these business activities can result in damage to the reputation of the bank or acquirer and put the acquirer in a position to receive increased chargebacks and/or fraud losses. On an on-going basis, a Web Crawler enables companies to efficiently monitor websites and ensures businesses do not change in a manner that could put an acquirer in jeopardy. A Web Crawler will:
Scan and identify visible and hidden content, including associated links
Scan websites to ensure proper categorization
Index websites to detect future changes in business practices
Manage site names and IP addresses
Analyze web sites and links to monitor for key words/phrases images, files, etc.
Continually monitor all sites and links.
A Web Crawling service can protect an acquirer from a multitude of potentially costly sins. Fines from the networks for processing unacceptable merchants can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and generally escalate based upon the length of the infraction. Improperly registering merchants can lead to similarly escalating penalties and network scrutiny. High-risk merchants also tend to experience a higher incidence of chargebacks. In addition, not realizing these merchants are in a portfolio,
can put an acquirer in a precarious financial position and even result in fines if the situation is not managed properly. Finally, merchants that morph their businesses often fail, for a multitude
of reasons, and a failing merchant puts an acquirer in harm's way as losses can accumulate quickly.
The Internet is a great place to conduct commerce and a growing venue for payments, but it must be managed carefully. For those Acquirers and ISOs that choose to solicit and manage on-line busnesses, a Web Crawling service is a necessary tool for your risk mitigation toolbox.