The challenge: keeping sales secure and seamless in a new normal

With a fleet of 87 aircraft, Iberia flies to almost 140 destinations and transports almost 30 million passengers per year. The pandemic had the potential to create challenges for Iberia, and one of these was the stress it placed on payments.

Airlines were under pressure to secure every sale they could whilst ensuring the most seamless experience possible for every customer. They were simultaneously dealing with emerging risk trends from new and trending payment methods, new gift card functionalities, and changes in consumer behavior.

They had to provide flexible ancillaries to cope with COVID uncertainty, and unusual activity, like last-minute one-way flight reservations, was no longer a marker of potential risk.

In this tough environment, Iberia had to manage sales, payment risks, and the payment experience while adjusting to the deeper changes in consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic. By quickly adapting to new payment trends (such as vouchers, wallets, and P2P payments), all of them more digital than ever, Iberia was ideally placed to adapt and optimize security controls—fast.

What we did: AI and human intelligence in harmony

Iberia has partnered with Cybersource for more than 10 years and made improvements to their payment risk management strategy over that time. When the pandemic hit, Iberia saw an opportunity to continue this improvement—and make the changes needed to be ready for the post-pandemic new normal.

Harnessing the power of AI with Decision Manager

Cybersource’s flagship fraud solution Decision Manager sits at the heart of Iberia’s payment risk management. With its machine learning capability, Decision Manager gains insights from more than 141 billion global transactions1 annually, helping Iberia review cases faster and make more accurate decisions.

During the pandemic, Iberia also harnessed Decision Manager’s Identity Behavior Analysis. This function uses cross-merchant data from the Visa network to recognize genuine repeat customers and, crucially, to identify legitimate new customers that had no previous history with Iberia.

The result? Minimized false positives during security checks and a great payment experience for Iberia’s customers.

Combining AI with human insight

The strongest solutions use AI and humans in tandem, and this is what Iberia has implemented. With the actionable insights provided by Decision Manager, Iberia’s team is free to focus on the critical analysis that leads to improved rules and acceptance rates.

For example, the team now uses Decision Manager’s Replay function—the first ever real-time ‘what if’ rules analysis tool. This enables them to test potential new rules offline using existing data before activating them in their live environment, ultimately helping them adapt quickly to new customer behavior, trends, or needs.

Technology should be doing what is automatic and repetitive, leaving people to look at more valuable insights. With our Cybersource solution and the data we have available, this is now possible, and we’re seeing the benefits.

Alfredo García Grande, Digital Business, Direct Sales and NDC Division – Payment and Fraud Analyst, Iberia

Global payments backed by regional expertise

To support our clients, we ally their business insight with our payment expertise. With that in mind, we had a dedicated Cybersource Risk Consultant join Iberia’s team. Fluent in Spanish and highly experienced, they helped Iberia analyze Decision Manager data and optimize rules and also trained Iberia’s in-house team.

Multiple payment methods, one solution

All Iberia’s accepted payment methods across all channels, from payment cards to digital wallets to gift cards, are now fed into Decision Manager, which means more end-to-end protection. And since Decision Manager can consolidate transactions across payment methods and channels, Iberia’s team is empowered with deeper insights, helping deliver stronger protection and higher acceptance rates.

I always want my team to understand how the technology works. Of course, we rely on our Risk Consultant, but now if we suddenly see a new pattern, we can quickly take action ourselves.

Carmen Gavilán Chamber, Payments & Fraud Manager – Digital Business, Direct Sales and NDC Division, Iberia

Impactful results for Iberia

What I feel really proud of is that after the pandemic, which has been really hard for airlines, we were able to be ready for the customer when they started travelling. We optimized everything. We prepared everything for when the demand was there. And we controlled cost as much as possible. I feel we contributed to the whole company being able to quickly adapt to new customer behavior, reduce cost and increase security.

Carmen Gavilán Chamber, Payments & Fraud Manager – Digital Business, Direct Sales and NDC Division, Iberia

+20% conversion2

More genuine customers enjoying a seamless experience at checkout means higher sales conversion. In fact, Iberia saw a 20% increase in conversion at the point of payment.

-80% reject rate2

Between 2019 and 2022, Iberia saw an 80% reduction in its reject rate without experiencing an increase in chargebacks.

-60% review rate2

By automating and optimizing the review process—and empowering their team with insights—Iberia saw a 60% decrease in its review rate. In short, fewer genuine payments were being lost to reviews, delays, and rejections.

Confidence to focus on direct sales

With a secure and seamless payment experience at checkout, Iberia has the confidence to drive customers to their own channels for more direct sales—and therefore build even closer relationships with them.

1 VisaNet transaction volume based on 2022 fiscal year. Domestically routed transactions may not hit VisaNet.
2 Results based on transaction analysis by Iberia, March 2023.

Case studies, statistics, research and recommendations are provided “AS IS” and intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for operational, marketing, legal, technical, tax, financial or other advice. Visa Inc. does not make any warranty or representation as to the completeness or accuracy of the Information within this document, nor assume any liability or responsibility that may result from reliance on such Information. The Information contained herein is not intended as legal advice, and readers are encouraged to seek the advice of a competent legal professional where such advice is required.

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