Homegate is the leading Swiss real estate marketplace, offering the largest selection of properties in the country. Thanks to smart features embedded in its range of products, Homegate offers quality listings as well as a seamless experience and ease of use, which leads to an average of 9M monthly visits.
But as Philipp Keller, Senior Product Manager at Homegate, puts it, this well-oiled machine slowed down at the beginning of the pandemic, when internet marketplaces in general were targeted by fraudsters, including Homegate with a great number of fake listings.
What was the challenge?
Anyone can post a listing on Homegate which then gets quality checked before publishing. With the increase of fraudulent activities, among others caused by several fraud rings, Homegate was faced with a growing backlog of listings to review, resulting in an unacceptable delay in the speed of publication.
In order to tackle this problem, Philipp even posed as a potential victim to tackle the issue and recognised the following recurring pattern:
Because of COVID, I’m not in Switzerland at the moment. So please send money to this account to secure the viewing appointment, should you not be granted the apartment, we will refund you the amount etc…
As a professional platform, we couldn’t accept that scammers would deceive our clients. Homegate also proactively and extensively informed its users in order to raise awareness and prevent frauds.
Philipp and his team knew they had to act. They developed an opportunity tree to gauge where the risks were, and which solutions could be put in place to block/flag fraudsters.
2FA, for instance, was ruled out for increasing friction. As hiring additional staff wasn’t a valuable option at that moment, Philipp began looking at automation solutions.
Over the past years, the Customer Care team acquired a solid knowledge in how to recognise and prevent fraud. They manually reviewed listings for years and were the main information source for Philipp and his team. Customer Care was always very supportive of automatising this process, but for them it was also important to review the system before it went online. It was paramount to avoid that too many fraudulent listings went online since each of them would then generate a considerable additional workload for the Customer Care Team. After a few weeks of extensive testing, everyone was confident about the rollout.
Solutions for Homegate
Auto approval accuracy for automated listing approval over
Listing reviews went from
days to mins
Listing reviews went from taking up to several days to just a few minutes, with an accuracy for automated listing approval of up to 99.5%.
Once SEON was fully integrated by the Homegate engineers – a process Philipp recalls as being painless – he began experimenting with the fraud rules. And the best part? He could do so without creating bottlenecks for the IT team.
Philipp Keller says:
I tested some extra rules, and over a few months I managed to push SEON’s auto approval from an initial accuracy of 95% unto 99.5%. Taking the time to update your SEON rules is an investment that gives great results. And the best thing is that we can do so without deploying any software. From an engineering perspective, it is extremely time and resource saving, allowing us to react much faster.
And the results of the implementation speak for themselves. Reviewing listings, which in some cases took up to 4 days, is now virtually instantaneous. This frees up time and effort at customer care to offer Homegate’s high value customers even better support than before.
Philipp on the other side can concentrate on new Homegate features, and to remain one step ahead of the competition. More importantly, it allows the company to operate with full confidence that its customers’ experience is safe, enjoyable, and frictionless.
I like SEON a lot and wholeheartedly recommend it to others – I see almost no flaws in the platform.
Senior Product Manager