The Right Tools for Combating Credit Card Fraud
In today’s tech environment, security is at the forefront of many people’s minds. That is especially true when finances are involved.
To be sure, consumers are not irrational when they worry about the integrity of their financial information.
Enough platforms have been hacked to make just about anyone nervous.
For example, in 2013, Target, a mainstream multipurpose retailer, endured a network hack that compromised 40 million customer credit and debit cards. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Other retailers including Home Depot – 57 million credit cards, eBay – 145 million cards, and TJ Max – 95 million customer accounts, were each compromised at an astonishing scale.
In fact, for many consumers, data compromise feels more like an inevitability than a risk. This is not a helpful sentiment for anyone. As more people are shopping online and exposing valuable financial information in the process, a sense of security must be a prerequisite if this trend is going to continue to proliferate.
Passwords Don’t Protect Much
The digital ecosystem is intended to be secured by personal passwords that guard users accounts from unintended activity. As several consumer trends indicate, this system is lacking, to say the least. Despite an abundance of password managers and other tools to help users best fortify their accounts, an astonishing number of people choose obvious and ineffective passwords. The two most egregious choices “123456” and “password” rank first and second in the most popular password choices according to PRWeb’s annual survey on the state of personal passwords.
As a result, biometrics are receiving a lot of attention as the natural successor to the traditional password system. Apple’s iPhone has included a fingerprint sensor since 2013, and most smartphone companies include this feature as well. Last year, Apple made waves when it introduced Face ID, a biometrical password that uses a 3D map of a person’s face to access the device, rather than a fingerprint or a numeric password.
More than a third of the entire global population already owns a smartphone, and adoption rates are spiking as devices become cheaper and internet access becomes more ubiquitous. Therefore, biometrical data is already making considerable headway as a replacement for traditional passwords.
A New Kind of Password
Perhaps most importantly, the broad adoption of a Web Authentication standard means that biometrics can be used for more than just accessing devices. This industry standard, which is already adopted by Microsoft and Google, allows websites to eliminate passwords altogether in favor of biometric input.
In addition to being incredibly convenient (Just think, no more password management!), it also dramatically increases security on the web. As Engadget explains, “It’s about more than convenience. That same uniqueness reduces the chances that a password compromised on one site can be used on another — intruders shouldn’t have free rein with your accounts even if they punch through a site’s defenses.”
With so much internet activity related to financial transactions, this could be a huge deal for credit card holders. Using biometrics, a fingerprint or a face scan can authorize a sale, guard financial accounts, and protect against theft or fraud. Popular heist attempts like skimming and cloning, interception on delivery, and charge backs would be significantly less effective by altering the authentication landscape.
Centralized Networks Limit the Potential
While biometrics represent a critical next step for credit card holders, its benefits are limited when the the personal data that they secure is stored on centralized databases. Unfortunately, that’s the way most information is stored. Massive server farms that house unfathomable amounts of personal and financial information are sitting ducks that are vulnerable to an impending hack.
These facilities implement complicated and comprehensive security measures, but there is little deterrence for preventing motivated bad actors from trying to breach the network. The recent revelation that Russian operatives attacked and eventually infiltrated the U.S. energy grid demonstrates just how true this is. The Wall Street Journal reports that the hackers, “broke into supposedly secure, ‘air-gapped’ or isolated networks owned by utilities with relative ease by first penetrating the systems of authorized vendors who had trusted relationships with the power companies, said officials at the Department of Homeland Security.”
In short, with enough time and resources, hackers can infiltrate even the most fortified centralized databases.
Fortunately, just as devastating data breaches are reaching an all-time high, blockchain technology has arrived as a solution for secure data storage.
The Blockchain Makes the Difference
The blockchain is a nascent technology, but its competencies and capabilities should not be ignored.
For instance, the blockchain operates on a decentralized network, which shields it from many prominent attack methods, it is uniquely well-suited for facilitating data and financial transactions, and it’s enabling a plethora of innovative startups to pursue fresh solutions to prominent problems.
As Bridget Van Kralingen, head of IBM’s blockchain initiative, recently demurred when asked about the most exciting part of the blockchain’s development: “I could go on forever.”
Preventing Credit Card Fraud
When it comes to combating credit card fraud, the blockchain can be a differentiating factor for creating a secure infrastructure for securely verifying digital transactions.
The blockchain can facilitate a process that enables users to participate in the digital economy without presenting their personal or financial information to the companies they interact with. Rather, consumers can use tokens, references, or attestations to verify their identity and payment information.
This can be a critical component of fraud prevention. By replacing the most vulnerable component of the process, the blockchain is laying a secure foundation for financial transactions.
By all accounts, now is the perfect time for applying blockchain technology to the problem of credit card fraud. More consumers than ever before are turning to the internet to make purchases – last year’s holiday season saw online sales outpace in-store purchases for the first time – but that landscape has never been more vulnerable.
Meanwhile, the vast proliferation of smartphone technology, biometric sensors, and blockchain technology makes it possible to secure the data that protects the transactions. A world without complicated passwords or compromised networks is at our fingertips, and blockchain technology makes that achievable.
About the Author:
Alastair Johnson is the founder & CEO of Nuggets. Nuggets is an e-commerce payments and ID platform. It stores your personal and payment data securely in the blockchain, so you never have to share it with anyone – not even Nuggets.
86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement
A shortage of digitally savvy talent, and a lack of training for technical and soft skills, hinder digital procurement initiative
Research from Ivalua, a leading provider of global spend management cloud solutions, has shown that a majority of UK businesses (86%) face significant barriers developing digital skills in procurement. The findings reveal that a shortage of digitally savvy talent (31%), a lack of training for technical and soft skills (28%) and a lack of understanding of the skills required (13%), are some of the main barriers preventing UK business from developing the digital skills they need. Additionally, over half (55%) of UK businesses say that digital skills in procurement are less advanced compared to other departments
The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Ivalua, surveyed 200 UK-based procurement, supply chain and finance professionals about the true nature of digital skills within procurement, and the challenges businesses looking to digitally transform will face. More than eight-in-ten (84%) UK businesses believe that the skill set required of procurement professionals has shifted from procurement-first to digital-first. The study also highlighted that most respondents believe that greater digitalisation (84%) and better digital skills (83%) in procurement would have enabled UK businesses to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak more effectively.
“Over the last decade, the role of procurement has transformed from one of cost-cutter to a vital ally that can help inform and enable a business’s strategy. The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend even further, reinforcing the importance of procurement as businesses adapt to the new normal,” commented Alex Saric, smart procurement expert at Ivalua. “However, for too long, procurement has been seen as a digital laggard, with technology adoption trailing behind other departments. In order to keep its seat at the table in strategic discussions, procurement must ensure it has people with the right skills in-house, as well as easy to use technologies, or risk being unable to offer significant strategic value.”
Challenges in hiring digital skills in procurement
As part of ongoing digital transformation efforts in procurement, the report found that UK businesses have started to introduce new technologies such as data analytics (55%), cloud-based platforms (53%), automation (35%) and AI/machine learning (30%) in the last 12 months.
But when it comes to deploying these technologies, UK businesses are finding it difficult to complement them with the digital skills required. The study found that 88% find it challenging to hire the right digital skills to work with technologies such as AI, cloud-based platforms or data analytics, while 76% say they are concerned that existing procurement teams will struggle to work with new technologies. Developing digital skills is vital for businesses, as 91% of respondents say that improving digital skills can make procurement more strategic, while 94% say it will help them gain a competitive advantage.
“In a rapidly evolving business environment, digital skills are essential for procurement teams to analyse and mitigate risk, identify new opportunities and collaborate with suppliers. However, procurement teams are struggling to both attract digital talent and upskill existing teams, which puts them at risk of falling behind competitors, losing market share, and struggling to identify risk and opportunities ahead of time,” comments Saric.
“To address the digital skills gap in procurement, UK businesses need to ensure they are focusing on adopting tools that are easy to use and improve access to actionable insights. By making procurement smarter, businesses are giving teams the tools and skills needed to thrive in the new normal, allowing the business to react and proactively address the shifting sands of a post-COVID world.”
The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal
By Jeremy Nicholds CEO, Judopay
As society adapts to the rapidly changing “new normal” of working and socialising, many businesses are working tirelessly to ensure that they have all the necessary safety precautions in place to keep trading. One such sector is hospitality, but the way it typically operates now looks very different to what we were used to seeing prior to the pandemic.
Many pubs, restaurants and other hospitality establishments have now been open for a few months since lockdown, providing much relief and enjoyment to many consumers, as well as getting many employees back into work. However, a core component for businesses to maintain trading in these times is to ensure the crucial safety of staff and customers.
Payments are playing an important role in this and we’re seeing payment technology being implemented in new and unique ways to help make the hospitality sector as safe as possible. One such technology is app-based commerce, which allows businesses to interact with customers in ways that minimises physical contact whilst crucially still enabling engagement.
With table service now mandatory and Test and Trace measures continuing, we’re likely to see this technology being increasingly adopted in the months and years ahead. So, let’s take a look at what its use means for the hospitality industry and beyond and how it lines up with the government’s latest advice for businesses within the sector.
Understanding government guidance
Guidance issued from the UK government expands upon advice already offered by the Prime Minister to the hospitality sector, at the point of reopening back in July. It has been stated that all indoor hospitality is limited to table-service, interaction between staff and customers should be minimised as much as possible, masks are being enforced for indoor hospitality staff and the rule around groups of 6 continues.
At the same time, businesses now have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace by collecting names and contact details from customers so they can be reached if a customer/worker tests positive. This is a recent mandatory move having previously been guidance.
What’s more, it’s recognised that payments are a practical tool to help companies adhere to these guidelines. Throughout the pandemic it has emphasised that contactless payments are useful for reducing human interaction and touch points – such as PIN pads.
Early on, we saw the payment industry increase the authentication limit for contactless spending limit from £30 to £45 to help reduce cash purchases, cash machines and PIN pad usage. The Government are strongly encouraging the use of contactless payments in the hospitality sector, however, there’s a big part of the solution that they may have overlooked that can help hospitality businesses meet these guidelines with even greater ease – app-based commerce.
Why use apps?
Apps provide a whole host of benefits and are the perfect tool for not only minimising contact, but also ensuring customers are contactable at a later date, if needs be.
While contactless payments eliminate the need for customers to pay using cash, or touch PIN pads, apps can remove physical human interaction at the point of sale altogether. This is because they enable customers to pay ahead or at the table, meaning they don’t need to leave their seats or regularly interact with staff. And done well they can even be a boost for business, enabling more convenient transactions and higher levels of repeat purchase.
When it comes to ensuring that customers are contactable, apps and e-wallets have a real advantage over traditional card-based transactions and anonymous cash payments. They allow companies to retain details about who has attended an establishment at a given time, enabling them to know whether a customer was present while a person known to be carrying the virus was in the vicinity. The communication advantages of apps also allow establishments to manage their footfall and customer flow.
The role of app-based commerce in the new normal
Apps will become more and more important for all types of businesses, as consumers shift their behaviour towards digital. They represent a new ‘real estate’ for retail and other businesses to manage – to present their brand in the right way, to engage customers and drive transactions.
Recently, we’ve seen Apple support this move towards app-based commerce with the launch of App Clips, further bolstering its use as we emerge from lockdown and encouraging safer and hygienic ways to pay.
App Clips are a great way for consumers to quickly access and experience what an app has to offer. They are fast and lightweight so a user can open them quickly and start and finish an experience from an app in seconds. And when they’re done, the business can offer the opportunity to download the full app from the App Store.
We are also seeing a number of hospitality businesses warming towards the use of app-based commerce and doing a great job of implementing it. The technology has already become central to the safe trading operations of big names in the industry such as Caffè Nero and The Young’s Pub, which are great examples of how to make apps work for your business.
As the industry steadily navigates its way through a new normal of operating, we expect that app-based commerce will skyrocket. In fact, we’ve already seen a great number of businesses throughout different industries expressing interest in the payment method, suggesting that it will play a pivotal role in moving forward. It certainly is a great way for businesses to keep staff and customers safe.
Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for
By Kristy Chong, CEO & Founder Modibodi ®
Taking single use plastics out of circulation is no easy feat, but the answer might lie closer than we think
FemTech: The Beginnings
The term FemTech was initially coined to describe the powerful offering from tech start-ups as they ventured into developing revolutionary products centred around women’s health needs. Whilst the beginnings were humble, we have seen a whole host of innovations enter the market which have changed the game for women and business leaders around the globe.
Fast forward to 2020, FemTech is an industry predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2025 and a powerhouse that is not just tackling women’s health issues but also helping to solve major environmental and sustainability crisis that we face today.
The fearless female entrepreneurs have founded and grown businesses that are continuing to help women across the globe deal with issues such as fertility, periods, sexual wellness, pregnancy and many others. And the best is yet to come.
It is a Man’s World
Traditionally, both technology and medical sectors have been very slow in tackling women’s issues and notoriously lagged in developing products and tools that address issues predominantly affecting women. Whilst figures show that women spend 29% more on healthcare than men, only 4% of overall R&D funding goes towards developing products for the women’s sector therefore the market is ripe for disruption.
As a woman, a mother and entrepreneur I knew that like many others I had to take matters into my own hands.
Following an incident with incontinence whilst training for a marathon in 2011 after the birth of my second child, I recognised the need to innovate apparel that offered a dignified, supportive and sustainable solution for women to manage leaks from periods, incontinence and everything in between. After two years of product development and over 1000 scientific tests, I founded Modibodi in 2013 with a long term view of breaking taboos, opening minds and offering a reusable, sustainable option for sanitary products that’s not just for women – but for the benefit of all bodies on this planet and the environment too. Now, we’ve expanded on that notion to support all people, including men who suffer incontinence, sweating and chafing, providing them with a reusable, sustainable option with our Modibodi Men range.
As you can imagine, this was far from simple not just due to tech and business sectors being notoriously dominated by men, with figures showing that 98% of VC funding goes towards male founded products but also because we were not just selling a new brand of lipstick or gym-wear, we had created a whole new product category based on talking about things that made people and retailers uncomfortable.
As a social advocate for women’s health issues and rights I knew that I needed to persevere because the amalgamation between technology and feminism is a major force of social change and one that can have wide scale impact on our world.
The Sustainability Story
The sustainability agenda has really taken off in the last couple of years, especially in our war against single use plastic. But it occurred to me very early on that we are not doing enough and there are still areas that need urgent review.
Very early on in the development stage of Modibodi I knew that sustainable sanitary products could be a game changer in eliminating single use plastics from circulation and whilst the world and respective governments were focusing on plastic straws, I felt the change needed to come from numerous angles and streams of consumerism.
The proof of concept was starring us right in the face, the average woman uses an average of 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products in her lifetime and these convenient products come with an inconvenient environmental cost. They take 500 to 800 years to biodegrade, which means the first ever tampon and pad is still in landfill. Even more alarmingly, 8% of all waste that enters water treatment works comes from period waste, including non-flushable items such as pantyliners.
This is why I believe that the revolutionary innovations that are born out of the FemTech sector have capabilities to be one of the key drivers of the sustainability agenda. There is something remarkably special about a group of purpose driven businesses that can connect with consumers through a collective set of values to drive change and be a force for good.
As most purpose driven business leaders will tell you, the fight never stops as the world evolves and continues to change. The sheer growth in the FemTech sector and the capabilities developed to date have changed millions of lives around the globe.
As an industry and a movement, we’ve also managed to play our part in driving the sustainability agenda and I will argue that actually the wide scale change and unity needed to continue making strides in eradicating single use plastic from our circulation will come from within the powerhouse that is FemTech.
The sheer capacity for change can be easily demonstrated if we look at the granular data and its potential for growth. If just 100,000 young girls use Modibodi alone from the start of their menstrual cycle, this would prevent 1.1 billion disposable hygiene products from ending up in landfill or 1.5 million garbage bags of waste. As of May 2020, our global base of 500,000 customers alone have prevented an estimated 2.5 million garbage bags of disposable hygiene waste from ending up in landfill or flushed into the ocean.
With the FemTech industry growing at a racing speed, I have no doubt that we are at the tipping point of pioneering wave of inventions that will take the agenda further and have the capacity and means to lead the movement. It is up to the trade organisations and world leaders to recognise the potential that such businesses and brands carry in order help to facilitate its growth trajectory.
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