Jonathan Altfeld, Douglas E. Landon, Charles J. Daniels
Equifax Check Services provides retail merchants and other businesses with quality decisions concerning the acceptability, risk, or fraudulence of customer checks. The greatest percentage of these decisions are provided automatically through on-line links with point-of-sale terminals. When a transaction is suspect, a referral notice is generated directing the merchant to call one of Equifax Check Services’ authorization centers for additional processing. This processing considers a wide variety of information unavailable through online processing, thereby giving consumers the greatest possible benefit of doubt prior to declining checks. These high-risk authorizations had historically been handled using a legacy mainframe system involving a high degree of manual intervention. Authorizations agents would complete a lengthy, rigorous training regimen, and be monitored as to their performance. Pursuit of service excellence caused Equifax, in conjunction with Brightware Corporation, to develop the Expert Authorization System (EASy), a rule-based solution for check authorizations that uses an innovative twist on a standard blackboard architecture. EASy was deployed and is used today by as many as 300 concurrent users. By encapsulating extensive domain knowledge, EASy has effectively eliminated authorization errors, provided consistent and replicable decisions, reduced elapsed time to a decision, and reduced the average agent training time from 4-6 weeks to 3 days.