Mobile is Key to Payment Security Woes

The promise of mobile commerce is a subject that we regularly cover in our blogs. The reason for this is quite simple. If current trends continue, it will become the dominant platform for digital commerce globally.

However, there remain significant barriers to universal adoption, especially around security concerns.

A poll carried out of US consumers earlier this summer showed that 64% of smartphone users not interested in making mobile payments said they didn’t want to store sensitive information on their phone, while 52% didn’t want to transmit such information to the merchant’s device.

These concerns are understandable and the same in every country. For example, police data shows that approximately 2,000 smartphones are stolen in the UK each day.

In the face of such risks, it is understandable that consumers will have concerns about the safety of sensitive financial information being stored on, and transmitted from, mobile devices. The seeming ubiquity of mobile commerce should not hide the fact that it is still a relatively new, rapidly advancing and still developing technology and, as such, consumers will still have concerns about it meeting the assurances given about security.

This is, of course, not helped by regular headlines of high profile data breaches such as Home Depot and Target in the US, Ashley Madison and, recently in the UK, WH Smith.

So there is the dichotomy of consumers being sold on the convenience of mobile payments but unconvinced on the security.

Another subject we regularly discuss is the need for a blend of authentication methods in digital commerce to ensure safety and security.

When discussing, for example, biometrics, we have made the case for adding an extra layer of security through the four digit PIN. iPhone users will be familiar with this concept. No single security method is fool-proof and, so, the more that are added to the mix, the more secure the storage and transmission of payment details will be.

Of course, this must always be balanced against the need for a frictionless authentication process. While consumers, rightly, demand security, security that is too intrusive will turn customers away.

Yet the growing ubiquity of mobile commerce should also be the answer to the security question. While consumers voice fears about mobile security, the irony is that no platform is better equipped to assuage these fears than mobile itself.

No platform has the capacity to bring together the mix of security methods quite like mobile. It has an adaptability far beyond that of the laptop or desktop and its ubiquity makes it instantly recognisable and usable throughout the globe.

Getting the right mix of security that plays to the strength of mobile will make it instantly trusted too.