New digital payments raise questions about consumer privacy and security


As more consumers adopt new payment methods on ecommerce sites, cybersecurity issues become even more important for businesses.

In a Mastercard new payments survey conducted in 18 markets around the world, a majority of consumers surveyed said they were willing to consider new payment methods such as digital or mobile wallets, QR codes, and even cryptocurrencies.

“Ninety percent of consumers have tried at least one new payment method in the past year. And of those two-thirds actually did it for the first time “- and would not have done it if it hadn’t been for a pandemic, said Sandeep Malhotra, Executive Vice President of Products and Innovation, Asia Pacific at Mastercard.

“And 60% of consumers want to avoid the merchants who don’t offer electronic payments,” he told CNBC.

Cyber ​​security threats have become a growing concern as more people make online payments. This was confirmed in the Mastercard survey, which found a worrying increase in online fraud cases due to bans during the pandemic.

“One in four consumers experienced some type of fraud in the past year. Cybercrime increased by a good 49% over the past year just because everyone stayed home, ”noted Malhotra.

I think at the end of the day the government has to strike a pretty fine balance between consumer needs and industry or business needs as well.

Selena Ling

Chief Economist, OCBC

Because of this, Mastercard has taken a number of steps to build consumer confidence when using its credit cards to make online payments.

“What we do in this area is essentially to create safe solutions and to offer the customer this convenience. Whether it’s using biometrics, whether it’s different types of verification methods that are beyond pins or passwords, ”Malhotra said.

“This is the security that the consumer is looking for,” he added.

Protection of consumer privacy

The pandemic has also led to an increase in cybercrime in Singapore.

Ecommerce fraud had the highest number of reported cases in the first half of last year. The number of scams rose 73.8% to 2,089 in the first half of 2020 – compared to 1,202 in the same period in 2019, according to local police. This was partly due to the surge in online transactions during the pandemic, it said.

Singapore is one of the most popular countries in the world for contactless payments, said Anthony Seow, Managing Director and Head of Payments and Platforms at DBS Bank. “I think world number one is probably Australia, we are probably number two,” he added.

DBS is currently using the latest technology to detect online fraud, Seow said.

“We actually use industry-leading solutions to scan transactions,” he said. “There is AI (artificial intelligence), there are algorithms … we are able to detect and block suspicious transactions before they hit consumers.”

To further improve consumer privacy, Singapore has amended its Personal Data Protection Act.

Following the new changes, which went into effect this year, companies will face tougher penalties for data breaches, but will be given more freedom to use personal data for innovation purposes.

The private health training provider HMI Institute of Health Sciences was recently fined a hefty $ 26,000 (or $ 35,000 Singapore) for failing to take adequate security precautions to protect the personal information stored on its server. According to local media, more than 110,000 people were affected by the data breach.

“Singapore actually has pretty good data protection laws,” says Selena Ling, chief economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore. “I think at the end of the day the government has to strike a pretty fine balance between consumer needs and industry or business needs as well.”

“I think consumers also need to know what their information is used for. And, of course, I think with the data protection act there is now a greater awareness of what kind of information they should give to companies “that collect that data,” she added.