The Dark Side of Tech Trends: Transaction Security

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Security issues raise concerns about mobile apps and mobile commerce.

It was just two weekends ago when a friend declared: "I don't carry cash. Why would I carry cash? I want points on my REI card or my Nordstrom card. You wouldn't believe the perks."

I was admittedly jealous. I want $100 free alteration on my suit at Nordstrom or a big discount on my camping gear!

Nevertheless, my jealousy became muddled when my friend's card was skimmed at her favorite gas station later that week. Apparently, there had been a strip on the reader that stole all of her card information. The unknown thief attempted to purchase a car online that same day in Texas. Luckily, the card was declined and flagged for suspicious activity.

Consumer trends are heralding in a new phase of transactional experiences—mobile point of sale and smartphones form the new digital wallet for the customer. This brings up new security issues: what happens when my credit or debit card is skimmed? What happens if I lose my phone with payment information preloaded on my apps? What about international travel?

Business Insider argues that cash is a thing of the past in their article "I Just Used Cash — Boy, What A Horrible Way To Pay For Things!" Yet, I would argue, that cash provides the most secure transactional method for everyday purchases such as lunch or coffee. Author Henry Blodget complains of the weight of coins and the dirtiness of paper bills but doesn't address the security issue of potentially giving access to your entire bank account in one swipe.

This is obviously a personal choice but if transactions continue to be digitized from a 99¢ candy bar to a car, security must remain a priority. If alternative point-of-sale experiences are being marketed, I recommend that businesses backing this technology have the security infrastructure to prevent fraud and theft for their users.

[Image: @Doug88888 - Flickr]

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