Privacy and security are issues we all worry about whenever we divulge our personal information. Unfortunately many of the new payment channels require that we open up this type of detail to parties which do not have much experience of how to handle it - unlike banks for example. For obvious reasons this is raising many concerns on the consumer side.
A mobile wallet is probably the clearest example of a new payment channel which shoppers have expressed concerns about. Firstly it requires them to connect their bank accounts to the device, which can cause some real headache if the phone is lost or stolen. Following this the provider of the wallet will also need to store such details on their servers and some people would never agree for anyone but their bank to have such powers.
This is perfectly sensible, as the last thing any of us wants is our bank details roaming around different, even most secure computers, as it can increase the likelihood of them being stolen or given to an undesired party.
Privacy is another important aspect to many people, who do not want to end up on databases every time they go shopping.
This however is one of the aspects why so many entities are getting involved in the development of new payment channels. Whether these are the creators of hardware or software, one of the biggest incentives for them to get involved is that they hope to have access to some very detailed information on how we shop.
Many retail chains provide their customers with loyalty cards in order to track their shopping history and reach them with better targeted promotions. But this approach limits those retailers to following the customers they have already won. Imagine how much they would love to be able to have access to everyone else too. Even if they couldn't gather such information themselves, they would surely consider paying for it, if someone else could.
Here lies the Holy Grail of retail and there are many companies out there which would love to monitor consumers not just for themselves but also in order to then sell such information on for some handsome sums. You could argue that this is already happening, but with the new payment channels we can see many more players getting involved in this practice.
Sadly the only way consumers can say that they do not wish to be in effect tracked in this way is by not using the new technology. This could mean that the technology to move us forward may be stalled by those trying to profit from it.
Online payments have become much safer in the recent years, due to not only security regulations, but also because companies have realised that they need to listen to consumers' concerns in order to succeed.
Those involved in creation of the new payment channels should indeed learn a lesson from that. Both customers and providers need to work together if we are to make real progress in this field.
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