COVID19: E-commerce Nightmares: Surprises Series – Story 3

13 November 2020
COVID19: E-commerce Nightmares: Surprises Series - Story 3

We’ve collected stories from colleagues, friends and people in our network, including our customers and their clients, who have shared how their digital experiences are going. Whilst we’ve found both e-commerce nightmares and nice surprises, it’s safe to say that the payment experience is still far from perfect. 

Story 1 in our series told the experience of a #WFH employee who was trying to purchase a laptop from a global online platform. Their laptop was supposed to be a few clicks away from ordering. However, that didn’t go as planned…

Story 2 explored a #WFH employee’s experience on ordering a bed which took over three months to be delivered during the lockdown. Soon that became one of those e-commerce nightmares that should never have happened. 

Story No 3: Let Me Pay!

This week’s e-commerce nightmare is about an employer who took a business trip abroad to Turkey. But has his payment card declined and blocked! This has happened as his bank provider did not realise he was travelling.

The journey started when he purchased a train ticket from his local station to Heathrow. To prepare for the overnight flight, he then bought some snacks and a book in duty-free. After arriving in Turkey, he paid for his taxi from the airport to his hotel using his #payment card again.

He then headed straight out to the important business dinner with his partners and enjoyed a big Turkish meal. At the end of the night, he tried to pay for the meal, only to be informed by the waiter that his card had been declined. Confused and concerned, he tried again – but with no luck. 

Later that evening, rather than being able to unwind after a long day, he spent several stressful hours trying to get through to his #bank provider. Eventually, they told him that his card had been temporarily blocked due to suspicious overseas activity. After spending lots of time liaising with his bank and verifying his identity and location, the temporary block was removed. 

The Solution 

This kind of situation is automatically managed by our Anomalytics platform. Anomalytics manages payments in a real-time environment, providing actionable insights. If the payment provider had integrated such real-time analysis that utilises #ArtificialIntelligence and #MachineLearning algorithms into their platform, then they would have been able to deduce that the #transactions were legitimate as they followed their customer’s payment journey.

This would’ve saved the businessman lots of time, hassle and stress as he tried to use his payment card abroad. 

A stressed man laying down on the bed next to his luggages - Story about travelling and payments - eCommerce nightmares and surprises series by Cybertonica.

Expert Advice

Our CEO, Joshua Bower-Saul, explained to us on how the above e-commerce nightmare scenario could have been avoided:

False positives are one of the biggest nuisances in the rule-based banking and other tools that try to provide sufficient barriers to fraudsters without considering customer friction. What’s more, the rules applied in this case do not actually focus on preventing fraud. They merely arbitrarily assign high risk scores to locations. 

In fact they can lead to less security as they force users to share lots of data to manage situations. And this data can be stolen through phishing and other means. 

The best thing is to connect the transaction analysis to behavioural biometrics as we do in Cybertonica. This means that we realise that the person has traveled and understand their location. We know they are holding the device in the same way and using it in a 99% similar way to the last purchase made in (for this case) the airport. Meaning, Job done no further data required.

He also added:

  • This area is a constant headache for banks, merchants and users. The prevalence of OTP and local 3DS or other two factor authentication tools is not a solution. These are now officially considered not secure and require user intervention that can last long minutes.
  • The same problem affects online sales in both e-commerce and travel or other arenas. We don’t want frustrated passengers and dropped baskets.


As an #issuing bank, merchant, payment service provider or #acquirer, it is key to prioritise investment into advanced data science systems. These need to operate in #realtime to ensure that your software can differentiate between a potentially fraudulent payment and a legitimate actor. This way, you can build customer trust and loyalty. And ensure not to disrupt your user’s experience while protecting them against #phishing and other forms of data hijacking.

If you’ve missed the second story of our e-commerce nightmares, you can find it here!

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