Automating Merchant Underwriting with Coris’s SiteRating

Vinodh Poyyapakkam

May 17, 2023

Coris AI is building the modern risk infrastructure for payment processors. We’re thrilled to announce SiteRating, a proprietary model that analyzes a merchant’s website information and automatically provides a risk classification, increasing the speed and accuracy of merchant risk assessments.

The problem: manually assessing merchant websites

Websites are a merchant’s digital storefront and include critical information on the business’s history and product offering. These data points are valuable inputs into the merchant underwriting process. For example, an e-commerce website with a clearly stated shipping policy and refund policy is considered more trustworthy pointing to lower risk of the merchant. On the other hand, an e-commerce website with a bunch of stock images or typos can point to the sloppiness of the merchant, and put their legitimacy into question.

While websites are a useful source of merchant information, analyzing websites at scale is still a cumbersome process. Typically, payment processors and banks manually review merchant websites to validate information and assess their risk profile. This usually involves an underwriter looking at the merchant website manually, checking for the presence or absence of a few elements such as a shopping cart, and using these checks to determine the professionalism of the website and subsequently, the merchant. While this sounds simple enough, a few problems arise at scale:

  • Costs: Since this is a manual process and individual underwriters have a finite number of applications they can review, fast-growing companies will need to hire a team of underwriters to process applications adequately.
  • Bias: Even the best-trained underwriter will bring their own subjective bias into the analytical process, which can impact application decisions.
  • One-time vs. ongoing: Websites are usually reviewed at the beginning of a company’s relationship with a merchant, but they may not be monitored for material changes post-merchant onboarding. Risk monitoring is equally important after acquisition.

“From managing risk for merchant portfolios in various capacities, I have found one common theme, regardless of industry: a strong web presence is critical for merchants in today’s digital economy. Quality web presence can make or break a business, and can be a strong indicator of fraud and credit risk. Traditionally, assessing the quality of web presence has been manual and subjective. Coris's SiteRating can be a game changer in this area.”

               - Arjun Ramakrishnan, Head of Risk for GoDaddy Payments

Introducing SiteRating

SiteRating automatically rates the professionalism of a merchant’s website, freeing up teams’ time to focus on other aspects of the merchant onboarding process. SiteRating evaluates a merchant's website and assigns it a tier rating between 1 and 5 based on factors like presence of certain pages, accepted payment methods, and merchant type (e.g., online seller vs. retail merchant). For a merchant with a state-of-the-art website, SiteRating tier rating of 1 can be assessed for that website. On the other hand, a non-functional website or a parked domain can have a rating of 5.

With SiteRating, risk teams can automatically evaluate merchants’ websites for risk indicators. In the case of a retail merchant, one doesn’t even need to enter the merchant’s website to get started: SiteRating can automatically identify a merchant’s website using just its name and location. This is similar to how we automatically come up with the Merchant Real Industry classification based on the name and location of a merchant.

How does SiteRating help teams?

With SiteRating, payment processors and SaaS companies offering embedded payments can:

  • Automate website review of merchants during the underwriting process and eliminate subjective decisioning
  • Continuously monitor merchants for any changes in their websites and action for any material changes post-onboarding
  • Vet the back book of software users automatically to cross-sell payments

Want to learn more?

SiteRating enables payment providers to save time, resources, and eliminate subjective decision-making in their merchant risk management processes. These improvements are a win-win for providers and their customers: providers can onboard trustworthy merchants more efficiently, and merchants get access to providers’ payment services more quickly. 

If you're a payment provider looking to streamline your merchant underwriting process, Coris's SiteRating is the perfect solution. Customers can access the SiteRating rating for a website through our developer-first APIs or with a file upload in our portal. In the coming weeks, our team at Coris is excited to roll out several new products and features that will further improve our customers’ risk management processes.

If you’re interested in learning more or have any feedback, please contact us.

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