Host of Hacker Noon Founder Interviews
What's your background, and what are you working on?
My name is Michael Reitblat, co-founder and CEO of Forter, the leading provider in e-commerce fraud prevention. Our identity-based fraud prevention solution detects instances of fraud and abuse for all customer interactions in real-time, such as attempts at account takeover, return abuse or loyalty program fraud.
Forter protects $130B in digital transactions annually through our global coalition of merchants that includes a network of Fortune 500 retailers, leading travel companies, and digital disruptors across five different continents (including Nordstrom, Priceline, AWAY Travel).
Our network allows for unparalleled visibility of consumer purchasing trends and fraud behavior across these merchants, and is five times the size of the largest global retailer alone, meaning that Forter is able to provide more valuable insights than any siloed retailer could hope to. This massive volume of annual transactions is unparalleled in the field, and to reach it, Forter is experiencing exponential growth. We have increased the dollar amount of processed transactions by 100 times over the past three years, and more than doubled the amount since January 2019 alone.
My fascination with online fraudsters began following my service as an intelligence officer in the Israeli Cyber Command, and transferred over to the professional realm at the beginning of my career when I led the product teams at several successful Israeli startups, including Pango, Kontera (acquired by Singtel), Fraud Sciences (acquired by PayPal) and Imperva (acquired by Thoma Bravo).
I also currently serve as a board member and investor in several other cutting-edge technology companies in AI, robotics and exascale computing areas, and work with several NGOs in education and tech accessibility for the developing world.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Our mission when founding Forter was to make a fraud-free e-commerce environment possible. E-commerce is the future as it removes barriers but it has to be safe and inspire trust in all parties.
E-commerce businesses face two fundamental pressures. On the one hand, consumer expectations are changing quickly. They want new offerings and more convenient ways to purchase. On the other hand, fraud is also evolving at an alarming speed. There are increasing volumes of fraud attacks, new vectors for fraudsters to utilize, and new types of fraud—such as account takeover or loyalty fraud—that are continuously cropping up. This creates internal friction between maximizing revenue and customer experience by enabling legitimate customers versus minimizing risk by blocking fraudsters.
We found that to keep pace with the speed of change and fraud, merchants need to combine data, fraud detection capabilities, and machine learning into a single, integrated system that can be constantly adapted and updated. This is where Forter comes in. Merchants must have a comprehensive view of all customers—their interactions and behavior across the entire customer journey—not just on their site, but on businesses across the globe, and Forter makes this possible.
Secure transactions shouldn’t come at the cost of the user experience, and brands shouldn’t have to choose between the two. We want to help retailers and consumers alike rid these pain points when it comes to shopping online so that legitimate customers can be recognized instantly and fraud trends can be caught and protected against quickly across brands.
How have you attracted users and grown your company?
Continuing to grow our company is extremely important to us and our mission since our value increases with growing strength of our network. Over time, Forter has built an extremely powerful coalition of merchants that are able to provide a wider lens on consumer behavior. These merchants, if working in a silo, are at a disadvantage to e-commerce retail giants, like Amazon, when it comes to fraud detection, simply because of size. If these merchants are all bonded together through Forter’s network, they have the ability to compete at a much larger scale.
For example, once a credit card is stolen, fraudsters attempt to use the card as much as possible over a short period of time. In order to protect against this, Forter is able to quickly leverage its massive volume of transactional data and award-winning technology to detect potential threats and block them across its global network in a split second, in essence immunizing the entire network—helping to prevent thousands of dollars in losses.
The more merchants we have in our network, the more visibility into consumer behavior we have, enabling us to instantly eliminate inaccurately declined transactions without causing a delayed impact on the experience.
What are your goals for the future?
As we look to the future, we plan to close the size and visibility gap between our network of merchants and Amazon — leveling the playing field when it comes to fraud detection. But we won’t stop there — we want to eradicate the particularly hard to detect fraud patterns by using our coalition, so that when one pattern is recognized, we can immediately identify and immunize that pattern across all other merchants that could be exposed.
What's your advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
My advice for entrepreneurs would be to find a problem that everyone can identify with. In my case, you’d be hard pressed to find a consumer out there who hasn’t exposed sensitive information online, or to find an online merchant that hasn’t lost money to fraudsters. It’s a problem that people can understand and get behind, and via our solution, traditionally competitive companies are able to work together to create a better e-commerce experience for both themselves and their customers.
Where can we go to learn more?