How We Built This: A Riskified Technologist Unpacks The Company’s Beacon Technology

Through his role as integration development lead, Mustafa Al-Salihi helps Riskified act on its mission of fraud detection and prevention.

Written by Stephen Ostrowski
Published on Dec. 28, 2022
 How We Built This: A Riskified Technologist Unpacks The Company’s Beacon Technology
Riskified
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As an e-commerce fraud-combatting platform, Riskified’s focus on bad actors really means a focus on the good ones. 

For Integration Development Lead Mustafa Al-Salihi, that means working with his colleagues on technical solutions that aims to help merchants — across industries like electronics, apparel and travel — by protecting them from fraudulent versus legitimate e-commerce transactions. Specifically, Al-Salihi oversees mobile fingerprinting technology, platform integrations and onboarding tools at Riskified. 

“Riskified is a merchant-centric culture: always thinking of solutions that can be beneficial and easy to implement for merchants,” Al-Salihi said. 

Recently, Al-Salihi’s focus has been scaling the functionality of Riskified’s beacon technology, a fingerprinting technology that helps understand users’ online behavior and how they interact with merchants using non-sensitive data. 

“Data from our beacon is linked with other data points in our machine learning models, making us much more effective at detecting fraudulent patterns and fraud rings across industries and ultimately improving merchant performance,” Al-Salihi said. 

As Al-Salihi described, a culture that encourages pushing the status quo is formative in trying to come up with innovative tech. Here’s how that ethos, combined with their technical work, gives rise to solutions for merchants. 

 

Riskified team members in office
RISKIFIED

 

 

What role did you play in developing and launching Riskified’s mobile beacon? What tools or technologies did your team use to build it, and why?

Mustafa Al-Salihi
Integration Development Lead • Riskified

Fraud prevention is always active and dynamic. When we develop new features to protect merchants and customers, fraudsters find new ways to attack. That’s why I am constantly working with different teams to measure the effectiveness of our beacon, adding new features for both operating systems (Android & iOS) while remaining compliant with Operating System Policies. 

Building new features requires comprehensive testing at scale. Therefore, we developed a testing framework to test our beacon across a list of devices that ranges from Chinese Android devices to iOS Devices.


 

What obstacles did you encounter along the way? How did you successfully overcome them? How did you keep team members motivated and aligned throughout the product development process? 

The primary challenge is making our beacon work on devices in different geographical areas while maintaining scalability, as Riskified’s merchant network continues to expand to markets such as China, Latin America, Japan, Eastern Europe, etc. We started to see new device profiles (software and hardware); this means we have to ensure that our beacon works for devices that might have distinct hardware and limited access to software features. The automated testing framework we built can run tests at scale and across a variety of device profiles that we support. 

I keep my team motivated by explaining the bigger picture, how our work is impacting the success of our customers and their shoppers, as well as the success of Riskified as a whole. Additionally, most engineers, including my team, are motivated by problem-solving and challenges. 

 

I keep my team motivated by explaining the bigger picture, how our work is impacting the success of our customers and their shoppers, as well as the success of Riskified as a whole.”

 

What teams did you collaborate with in order to get this across the finish line? What strategies did you employ to ensure that cross-functional collaboration went smoothly?

The integration development team works on Riskified’s merchant-facing technologies, entailing collaboration with various internal teams such as data science (to determine which data points will benefit our models the most); product and development (to incorporate new features into Riskified development kits as well as ensuring scalability and efficiency); and the integrations team (to work on merchant flows, resolve merchant technical issues and advise on integration best practices).

After each meeting, we produce clear action items and convert them to Jira tickets where everyone has visibility. Understanding different teams’ perspectives is important for effective collaboration. For example, data science focuses on having clear, well-formatted data points, while engineering focuses on feature implementation. Stating the importance of why it is important to have good data and why it is important to have a well-engineered design helps to clear any confusion between teams and enables us to deploy effective solutions. 

 

Riskified team members in office
RISKIFIED

 

When you think of other companies in your industry, how does Riskified compare when it comes to how you build and launch new products? What’s different about your workplace?

Culture and attitude. Riskified is a merchant-centric culture: always thinking of solutions that can be beneficial and easy to implement for merchants. Employees are encouraged to challenge the existing processes, technology and ideas. This means we are constantly evolving and innovating. At the heart, Riskified is an engineering company, as approximately half of the employees are in R&D.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via Riskified.

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