Mobile payments unsafe? Myth unraveled.

Mobile payments are making huge strides. A recent study by Visa showed that 51% of Belgians use their smartphone, tablet or smartwatch as a payment method. For online shopping, the percentage rises to 65%.

Despite this increasing use of smart devices to make payments, some people remain wary of the security surrounding mobile payments. As a merchant, you obviously want to reassure your customers about these payment methods that are likely to continue to gain significant ground into consumers’ habits. To help you to shed light on their concerns, we are sharing some insights and tips with you.

Mobile payments, you said?

Mobile payments refer to all payments made and accepted through so-called smart devices, such as a smartphone, smart watch, or tablet. Mobile payments actually involve any payment that is not made with the traditional physical bank card or cash. Mobile payments can be made both in a physical store and online.

How does it work?

In a physical store
You can pay with a smartphone in a physical store:

  • via a QR code. For this type of payment, your customers simply have to scan a QR code that is available on a sticker at the payment terminal/cash register in the store or on your smartphone via your banking app or the app Payconiq by Bancontact.
  • via e-wallet using NFC. Paying with a smartphone can also be done by adding physical bank cards to a digital wallet (also called “e-wallet”). Payment apps such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay make use of NFC technology for this purpose, where NFC stands for Near Field Communication. How does it work? First, your customer opens his or her payment app of choice and places the smartphone close enough to the payment terminal. Once the necessary payment data has been exchanged between both devices, your customer can confirm the payment, either via a PIN or biometric data such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, depending on the transaction amount.

Online shopping
Paying with a smartphone can also be done when shopping online. Do you remember the time when we had to drag ourselves out of the couch to find the bank card reader for every online purchase, no matter the amount? Once you found it, the session had usually expired.

Fortunately, nowadays, online purchases are often made without a card reader and directly through the banking app, Payconiq or other payment apps on the user’s smartphone. The customer is then automatically redirected to the payment screen of the app where it is requested to confirm the payment with a PIN or biometric data.

How secure are mobile payments?

Mobile payment vs cash
For all forms of electronic payments,

the less cash in your business, the lower the risks of theft and loss. Electronic payments are also a powerful weapon in the fight against fraud by reducing the amount of counterfeit money in circulation. Also, electronic payments offer much better protection than cash in terms of hygiene.

But it goes far beyond that. Mobile payments are in some ways safer than traditional card payments.

Mobile payments vs traditional card payments

When a physical bank card is stolen, the perpetrators have direct access to valuable information such as the payment card number (also called “PAN”) consisting of up to 19 digits or the CVC/CVV code for credit cards. With this, they can already do a lot of damage.

However, if a smart device is stolen, there are still several additional security barriers that must be overcome. Starting with the security features of the stolen device itself. Smartphones and tablets are usually locked with a personal PIN code or biometric data. After a few incorrect attempts, the device is usually locked.

Then, even if those persons succeed in unlocking the device, they still need to get hold of the payment information. Mobile payment apps comply with the strictest security standard. Each app is secured with its own verification code, which is again a personal PIN code or biometric data.

Security management systems

All payment traffic is routed through highly secure networks where all data is encrypted using various security measures. This also applies to mobile payments in a physical store. All information between your customer’s smartphone and your payment terminal is protected by data encryption.

In addition to banking institutions, many other payment actors are fully focusing on security. Card providers such as Visa and Mastercard are developing their own security systems that can detect suspicious activity and verify if it is really you.

Blocking payment apps remotely

In case of theft or loss of a smartphone, the same procedure applies as for bank cards. Your customer can block his or her e-wallet via Card Stop on 078 170 170.

In short, mobile payments are reliable and security incidents usually occur inadvertently or by mistake on the part of the device owner. Just as with card or cash payments, it is recommended to use a smart device with caution and common sense.

We summarize some tips:

  • Be careful when using your smart device and lock it with a strong PIN code or biometric data (fingerprint or facial recognition).
  • Be cautious when downloading apps; only use official apps and secure networks.
  • Never share your personal data and bank codes via email, SMS or phone.
  • Even if you are automatically logged out of the payment app when you stop using it, always close the app window.
  • Check your spending on your app regularly, so that you don’t get any nasty surprises.
  • Immediately block your e-wallet via Card Stop on 078 170 170 if your smart device is lost or stolen.

Besides security, what are the advantages of mobile payments?

The wider the range of payment options, the more choice your customers have and the higher your turnover as a merchant may be. You don’t need to buy anything else to make mobile payments possible. Paying with smart devices brings no additional costs, neither for you nor for your customers.

Faster payment processing means less waiting and wasted time at the cash register, and therefore more convenience and comfort. Mobile payment apps can be accessed anytime and anywhere, which also allows for better control over spending.