Hey! I’m Rika, Monzo’s Lead Disputes Engineering Witch.
Many of you already know me, but for those who don’t, I have been at Monzo now for almost three years. To cut an extremely long story short, I have gone from Customer Operations Technical Specialist back when Monzo was still a prepaid card to building 3D Secure v1, to working on all of our Mastercard card payment systems and new physical cards, and since the beginning of this year I now own the engineering side of card payment disputes.
What I’m about to say is not a formal promise of anything, but I wanted to let the community know what kinds of things I hear about disputing card payments at Monzo along with some of my thoughts around them.
Let’s look at some of the pain points I’ve heard from both this community and from reading customer complaints.
“Reporting a transaction takes too long, I have to wait for support to get back to me.”
We’re looking to solve this with in-app self-serve dispute reporting, which is something that is rolling out slowly right now, beginning with Fraud and Goods & Services disputes. Particularly as we reduce overnight support to urgent queries, it is in our interest to make sure you can file a dispute quickly at any time of any day. My team is not directly building this, but we have a team who normally works on the in-app help screen building transaction help who have been building an information collection flow for us.
“I keep having to explain my case to customer service.”
I’m currently working with my team on rebuilding what we call the “Disputes Lifecycle”. You can think of it like a case management system that tracks a dispute from you sending us the information to the case being fully closed. This already exists, but it is fairly simple and I would like to expand on what it can do.
My ultimate dream is to take all important information out of Monzo Chat where it can get lost in the backlog and put everything together in an easy to understand file of evidence, decisions, and logs of processes.
“Getting a refund takes forever!”
A lot of the time here comes from the 45 days we must wait after a chargeback is filed over the Mastercard network before we find out if you have won or not.
This happens because when a chargeback is filed, we are effectively taking money back from the merchant/acquirer, and the merchant/acquirer then has 45 days to take back the money again. We don’t actually know when you win or lose, just that the timer has expired so the money is yours to keep. At that point, we can actually put it in your account.
In some cases (particularly with fraud), we have a requirement to refund customers “before the end of the next business day after we became aware of the dispute” and we meet that requirement, but we do not currently do this for Goods & Services disputes where we are not bound by that timeline. This is because if Monzo refunds customers, we take on all of the risk for the dispute and with our past setup, that has been too risky.
A recent project of ours has been to integrate with what Mastercard call “Mastercard Collaboration”, it is effectively a system where we can send notifications of disputes directly to merchants, and they can choose to just refund you rather than escalate through chargebacks (which can become extremely expensive for the losing side). We recently launched phase one of this and have a good chunk of disputes being refunded in just a few days. We hope to work on improving this over time.
There are other projects in this area too, by increasing observability across the whole process, we can be more confident in making the difficult decisions that trade risk with customer outcomes.
“I keep having to chase my dispute, it seems like Monzo forgets about it!”
I promise you we are not forgetting about it, once a dispute is recorded it will go through the motions. However, it is totally valid that we don’t let you know about how it’s going and that you have to chase support to find out, being handed from frontline to our Dispute operations team.
There are a lot of smaller things here, but it comes back to the fact that we need to improve our case management system dramatically and make it easier to understand for someone who is not trained in the full Mastercard chargeback manual. From there, we can expose more of it to frontline support staff, and eventually the vision is to show all of the stages to you right in the app.
These are just some of my thoughts, and I don’t want to promise that we will 100% fix all of these in a certain time period, but hopefully you can see the direction things are moving in and trust that if my team changes direction, it will be for good reason.
“Make Money Work for Everyone” is Monzo’s overall mission. That means not just fancy app features, but also making sure that we act in your best interest and support you when things go wrong. Disputes has been worked on by some truly great engineers to get it this far, but has also not really had much true care and long-term vision put into it. I am hoping to change that and make Monzo the best bank to be with if you ever do experience card fraud or issues with a merchant not delivering.
Monzo is already one of the best banks we are aware of in the world for chargeback win rate, but there is still so many exciting things to do.
I will warn up front that almost nothing here is pretty or a fancy app feature. The vast majority of our work is in back office processes that most people won’t experience but for those who do, I hope you will see the impact over the next year or two. If we have done our job right, you won’t notice a thing.
At Monzo, we have been a little scared off from radical transparency recently after getting burned by it a couple of times as priorities changed. This post is a real bet from me that in opening the thinking in this team up, you will be able to understand the direction Card Payment Disputes at Monzo is going in, rather than us promising to hit a series of targets.
I would love to know what you all think if you made it this far!