Security and usability in payments: A complex juggling act

As we continue to transfer more and more of our daily routines and activities online, the security risks are inevitably rising.

Fraud involving highly sensitive payment details is a frightening prospect for the everyday consumer and according to fraud prevention agency Cifas, this particular form of crime is on the rise. One of their recent reports found that the number of victims of identity theft rose by 31% to 32,058 in the first three months of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014 – with criminals increasingly using internet forums to buy and sell data.

Clamping down on payments technology and implementing increasingly tight security controls may seem the obvious approach for banks in the face of this growing issue, however financial institutions are facing a complex juggling act between protecting consumer data and providing the simple, easy-to-use service that today’s customers demand.

Traditional banks are keen to support access to digital payments and online or mobile banking, all the while keeping their customers safe. As such, many have introduced security tools such as card readers to enforce two-factor verification. However, forcing consumers to carry around supplementary technology components contradicts the purpose of using smart devices for easy access to payments and banking and reduces the benefits of speed, flexibility and simplicity that these services should offer.

As the payments landscape continues to evolve, the security space is going to be forced to keep pace with it. It’s an exciting time for both industries and we’re going to see a lot more fast-paced developments emerging from the biometrics space, as technology giants and banks alike look to improve both the user experience and security associated with this lucrative market. Ultimately, consumers rule when it comes to technology developments and it’s up to security and payments experts to navigate their complex and often contradictory demands.