AI vs. Fraud: Mayank Taneja’s Insights at Merchant Risk Forum 2024

Mayank Taneja's
Advanced technologies are accelerating sweeping new process improvements in digital banking and ecommerce. But as financial institutions and payment processors leverage tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve transactional speed, accessibility, and security, global fraudsters are using these same tools to develop sophisticated methods for defrauding banks, businesses, and consumers. As fraud losses increase annually at an alarming rate, the need for better fraud prevention systems has never been greater.

Mayank Taneja, Director of Product Management, Risk and Authentication for one of the world’s largest payment networks, discussed approaches to optimize this growing problem with payments industry leaders at the Merchant Risk Forum on February 14, 2024.

Taneja currently leads development, commercialization, operational efforts, and performance for products that help in authenticating customer card-not-present (CNP) payments. He brings broad and significant fintech and analytics experience of nearly 13 years as a senior systems engineer, business manager, and project management professional to his position, having pioneered and managed new product strategy and commercialization for major Fortune 200 fintech companies, including a payment credential issuer and a payment processor/merchant.

In his current leadership role, Taneja has spearheaded various initiatives to stay current with new technologies, ensuring that merchants and customers are able to deploy best-in-class tools and product standards.

Mayank Taneja's

Among these, his team executes on programs that help merchants to understand the benefits of providing additional data during authentication of a transaction, such as enabling an enhanced data exchange of various additional attributes (i.e. IP address, location) that issuers can feed to AI/ML models, to facilitate how the tools make risk-based authentication decisions. Taneja says this allows the authentication to happen prior to the authorization of a transaction, and thus provides an additional layer of security, before any funds are moved between payee and payer.

At the Merchant Risk Forum, a members-only virtual event, Taneja addressed payment and fraud prevention professionals worldwide about how optimizing authentication systems model features are reducing fraud and improving transaction success. He says, “Given the rapid escalation of fraud in the digital payment space, having sustainable products that aid in identification and authentication is increasingly critical for payment processors.”

Throughout Taneja’s career, he has held accountable positions in which he was responsible for defining the vision, strategy, and roadmap for new technology products. Directing and collaborating with international units, he has been recognized for defining business requirements, prioritizing technology features, and delivering results that improve service and revenue.

As a leader focused on driving product lifecycle performance and delivering commercialization in support of the global financial industry, his work requires him to partner with regional and cross-functional teams on program performance, pricing, policies, market and internal readiness, technology implementation, marketing, communications, and legal and regulatory matters. He develops the business case and revenue forecasts for each product, as well as go-to-market/commercialization strategies, including blueprints for geographical expansion.

Taneja applies his specialized subject matter expertise and extensive technical product knowledge to add value to corporate internal teams, clients, and partners. He has directed differentiating enterprise programs across payments, marketing, and data platform domains, including leading omnichannel personalization workstreams to deliver relevant messaging on an organization’s website, using external vendor optimization capabilities and Multi-arm bandit models (MAB), and spearheading business strategy along with vendor onboarding to develop unified marketing measurement solutions, forming a cloud-based data strategy for the modernized financial core.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the Vellore Institute of Technology in India, Taneja earned a master’s degree in Information Systems, with an emphasis on Business Intelligence and Machine Learning, from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management (U.S.).

He believes that curiosity is fundamental to driving professional success, and applies it in every aspect of his work, attending and participating in industry conferences such as AWS Cloud and MRC to keep ahead of technology trends, and to better understand customer and merchant needs in a dynamic marketplace. Taneja says, “Having knowledge of both customer needs and technology is a must for a successful product manager, so you can appropriately apply technology to solving your customers’ requirements and problems.”

While distinguishing himself in the fintech industry, Taneja also works to nurture developing professionals in the sector, which is already experiencing a talent supply chain pipeline problem that is expected to increase with projected industry growth over the next decade. He has an unwavering commitment to foster diversity and inclusion in his teams and the industry overall, and create thriving workplace environments that promote innovation while executing on digital transformation. In addition to training and mentoring individuals on his teams, Taneja performs professional admissions interviews for his graduate school alma mater, and contributes his time and expertise to events such as the California State Career Development Conference (CADECA).

Taneja applies his academic foundation and professional experience, along with leadership skills and empathy, to help him take a user-centric approach to analyzing his customers’ needs and pain points. He says, “Even the best AI requires a degree of human understanding for anticipating and solving problems.

Marrying my strong analytics experience with empathy has enhanced the calculated risks that have enabled me as a product leader to produce breakout technical products and go-to-market campaigns. Achieving success in continuous fintech innovation—and staying at the forefront of fraud prevention—depends on embracing new ideas and empowering employees to experiment.”

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