It is fair to say that the world of payments has seen a huge change in recent years. As technology continues to reach newer heights, more sophisticated methods of making payments are being invented. While we started from barter system and went on to physical currency, we are now moving to digital payments altogether. When we say digital, we don’t just mean payments through credit cards. That’s quite old school now. What we mean is a whole new world of payments. The foremost entities of this world are mobile payments and a growing nexus of electronic payment systems.
Modern Payment Systems
A plethora of payment systems are coming up in the near future which will take the concept of payments to a whole new level. The process will not only become tech savvy. You will have to worry a lot less about making a secure payment. This is because technology will be used in a manner as to ensuring that all transactions are safe and secure.
With credit card payments, there’s always the risk of your card details being stolen by someone sitting between your system and the merchant. It might also be the case that the merchant is attacked, or that your credit card is stolen. To tackle these situations, many changes have already been made. For instance, token based payments are quite popular now. Actual credit card numbers are not involved in the transaction, only digital tokens. However, there are some truly innovative payment methods that are on the rise or in the final stages of building.
- Mobile payments
This usually uses the near field communication (NFC) technique. This method does not require you to swipe your credit card with a machine. Most current methods have mobile wallets that store credit card details securely. The user might only need to take a picture of his or her credit card to store the details. After that, you only need to hover your phone over the machine, and the details are shared. In addition to phone based systems, there are also devices like the NFC bracelet or ring, which essentially does the same thing without requiring you to use your phone.
Bitcoins are nothing new. They have been around for many years now, but they are worth mentioning here. A decentralized system that allows two people to be a party in a transaction without knowing each other is something the future should hold. It’s good that it’s already quite popular in the present. Customers can buy Bitcoins from websites at particular rates. The digital currency can also be used in ATMs, for there are more than a 100 Bitcoin ATMs in the USA.
Future of Payments
While the electronic payment systems mentioned above are sophisticated, the future holds something much more innovative.
Biometrics is already in use for authenticating user identity in different areas of one’s life. The technology is about to make its way into everyday transactions as well. MasterCard is working on a secure payment method where you would only need to take a selfie or use your fingerprints to make a payment. The selfie method requires the user to blink while clicking the photograph and when it is being authenticated. This prevents usage of old photographs.
- Social Media
It is believed that quite soon there will be payment methods which will use and add money to your social networking accounts. Authentication could be done using biometrics, while transactions could be made using your social networking accounts.
Security of Modern Payment Methods
While it is exciting to read about and watch these payment methods in action, the primary reason anyone thought of them was to make secure payments. Credit card payment systems are quite susceptible to theft and manipulation. It can be done by hacking into a system, spying on the network, tampering with the machine, or simply stealing a card.
However, even though the payment methods discussed above are a cut or two above credit card systems, they have their own vulnerabilities.
- Mobile Wallet Vulnerabilities
Mobile payments take away the need to enter credit card details every time, making the payment secure. However, you need to protect your mobile wallet’s credentials. This wallet has your credit card information, and should you lose access to it, the purpose of using it is defeated. It is up to the vendors to make sure that their systems are as secure as possible.
- Phishing attacks
As sophisticated as the world of banking and payments can become, one of the oldest tricks in the book can still be your doing. Phishing campaigns trick you into revealing sensitive information when you click on a link. This can come in the form of an email or an advertisement. This is quite an old trick, but people still fall for it.
Since electronic payment systems currently in use and those being developed rely heavily on smartphones, malware are a threat. If your phone is infected with malware, the perpetrator can steal all kinds of information from your phone. This can very easily include the credit card information in your wallet.
- Token theft
This is something that shouldn’t really happen, but it very well can. We mentioned above that NFC and mobile payments employ tokens in place of card details. The entire card details are not known to anyone but the final merchant and the token resolver. When you save your details, a token is generated and forwarded to the financial institution. This institution verifies this using your identity and sends a token to your device. These tokens are then stored and used in place of card details. Now, if the token is somehow stolen at the merchant’s site, you could lose money despite taking all precautions.
- Lost Phone
Needless to say, a lost phone is a recipe for disaster in today’s world. Smartphones already store a wealth of personal information, and with mobile payments on the rise, this information is only going to increase. If your phone is lost and does not have a strong or any password, then your data is in grave danger.
In this article, we talked about the future of payment systems. While mobile payment and other sophisticated forms are only in use where NFC is available, things could change in the future. As newer technologies emerge, their use will become simpler as well. The day when one could buy most anything with a modern electronic payment system is not far off.
The security concerns mentioned in the article need to be addressed before these technologies can expect widespread usage. The responsibility lies with the merchants as well as the buyer. You, as the user, need to be as careful as the one operating the technology. Using a strong password on phone or biometrics is a given. To prevent malware or phishing attacks, use good VPNs. They will prevent your data from being stolen while it is share over the internet. Using antivirus on your phone and being vigilant while browsing the net can keep those malware at bay.