Mobile payments are a popular way of paying for goods and services without needing to pull out a credit card for every minor transaction. Some companies, such as Paypal, have been offering these mobile services for years and have proven that having an app-based payment source can be both secure and effective. Other newcomers, such as Google Wallet and Square, are revolutionizing how and where transactions take place.
So which e-payment option do you choose? If you are a member of a particular bank chain, you probably have their app so you can keep track of your financial accounts with just a few taps of your finger. If you frequently buy things online, you probably use a service like Paypal, which may or may not link to your bank account, in order to purchase goods online without handing out your credit card information to every retailer. If you are a small business owner, you might use one of the new merchant services like Square, which allows you to accept credit card and debit payments from customers on your smartphone.
With an increase in mobile banking – mobile computing in general – there are concerns for customer privacy. Every company is starting to market their own brand of mobile wallet, much like how all retailers now have their own store credit cards. And much like the over-abundance of store credit cards, experts are worried that an oversaturation of mobile wallet options will cause consumers to become confused and their personal information compromised. Retailers have decided that the security risks for third-party payments are too risky that they are developing their own version.
The risk for theft is not exclusive to mobile payments; breeches of security that stem from credit card numbers being swiped from registers are often reported in the news. Security is not really the issue, although the retailers want you to think otherwise so you use their services. But once they have you hooked on their services, they’ll have all your sensitive data and will be able to market their products to you more effectively; they’ll know more than your interests and purchases, they’ll know your income and spending habits.
“[The retailers] want that same piece of the payments pie,” said Daniel Trigub, a business developer at Blue Bite. “They want to own the consumer and all that data that comes with knowing who the transaction is coming from. There is ultimately a fight for user data and information…whoever owns that (POS guys, handset manufacturers, Googles of the world, credit card companies, etc.) will be very powerful.”
But let’s face it, quick payments are too convenient to do away with. Mobile wallets aren’t the threat, but in order for them to continue working appropriately, there needs to be more regulations in place to prevent unwanted data harvesting.