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5 WAYS TO SAFEGUARD YOUR CONTACTLESS CARDS AND DIGITAL WALLETS

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Ian Wright, Founder of the Merchant Machine

 

Using credit cards and digital wallets instead of cash has numerous advantages, ranging from improved cleanliness to greater flexibility and theft protection. Cash transactions in the UK have declined by 20% in the past ten years according to a study conducted by Merchant Machine, and the pandemic has forced many businesses to go cashless in order to help protect staff and customers from the virus, meaning different payment methods have had to be used.

However, utilising cards rather than cash has drawbacks – such as the risk of cybercrime. The United Kingdom has one of the greatest search volumes for cybercrime-related keywords, with an average of 17,510 searches per month over the last year, according to research, with Ireland and France ranking first and second.

Ian Wright

With the lifting of coronavirus restrictions following so-called “freedom day” it is more likely that we will be in busier locations, increasing the exposure and chance of cards and digital wallets being exploited.  Thieves in crowds can easily obtain contactless cards or stand close to your wallet and use an electronic RFID-equipped terminal.

To help protect people against fraud, Merchant Machine has compiled some top tips to safeguard contactless cards and digital wallets.

 

Buy an RFID-Blocking Wallet

To complete a purchase, contactless payment cards communicate wirelessly with card readers using short-range Radio Frequency Identification, also known as RFID. You should constantly be aware of where your wallet is, but few of us are alert enough to detect when someone skims your cards too closely, which may mean they’re scanning them maliciously. You can, however, buy dedicated wallets to keep your cards safe. While some myths and individuals propose wrapping your cards in tin foil, this would only be a temporary solution. An RFID-blocking wallet, which resembles a metal case with a variety of folders inside, is your best chance as they block the radio signals between a card reader and the RFID chip in your card, helping prevent malicious scanning.

 

Set up a notification whenever a payment is made 

Most online banking apps or mobile phone banking services allow you to set up notifications when a payment is made, or to send you mini-statements on a specific day. If you set up these notifications, you’ll be alerted of any payments, even if you didn’t authorise them. Check with your bank or banking provider if you’re unsure how to do this.

 

Check your transactions

It’s a good idea to go over your recent transactions on a regular basis. Checking your bank statements will allow you to see any unexpected activity and alert your bank if necessary. If you feel your security has been compromised, contact your bank right away to revoke your card(s), reverse any fraudulent transactions and keep track of your account activity. You’ll be able to tell immediately whether there are any purchases you’re unfamiliar with. Unusual behaviour is one of the first signs that a hacker has gained access to your account.

 

Password protect your phone and use different passwords for different accounts

As your phone also functions as a wallet, it’s important to safeguard it with a PIN or password. You should treat your digital wallet the same way you would a physical card. Using a strong password is one of the best ways to safeguard your phone and the information stored on it. Don’t forget about the many security measures that today’s phones have to offer, including facial recognition, iris scan, and fingerprint unlock are even more secure than a password or PIN. Use multiple logins for different digital wallet accounts so that if one of your passwords is hacked, it doesn’t affect the rest of your data.

Scott Nelson a financial services expert, and CEO of MoneyNerd Ltd, comments:

The same way it is advised to never leave your wallet somewhere unsafe, you should always protect your digital wallet with safeguards. If there are locks you can put on your digital wallet or for your contactless cards, utilize those, but use a different number lock than your regular phone or card pin so that it’s not easy access. Another safety measure with card pins and password, is to never use common dates (like birthdays) or numbers associated with addresses etc. The less associated the number is with you or your assets, the less likely it is to be guessed.’’

 

Update your software when prompted

If your software and apps are not up to date it makes it easier for hackers to target you and exploit your personal information. Make sure you understand how your phone and digital wallets work so you can keep your software up to date. This is also true for your individual apps: update them whenever a new version is released.

Ian Wright, founder of the Merchant Machine explains the importance of being aware of scams:

‘With the increase in digitalisation, especially after the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to protect our wallets from potential attacks. Although using credit cards is generally safer than using cash for transactions, there are a few precautions card users should be aware of when using credit cards or managing e-money. 

A good way to protect yourself from fraud is to secure all your online and offline data by hiding passwords and shredding documents containing confidential information. Checking your statements is another good way to keep track of each payment and identify any possible scams.‘

Banking

Bringing Automation to Banking

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Ron Benegbi, Founder & CEO, Uplinq Financial Technologies

 

Automation is everywhere you look these days; from supermarkets to warehouses to automobiles. This prominent trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon. However, some sectors remain behind others when it comes to adopting automated technologies. Banking is one such segment, but there’s now evidence to suggest that this could be about to change.

 

What do we mean by automation?

There are a lot of ways to define automation, but broadly the term applies to any technological application where human input is minimized through design. Over the years, automation has evolved from a basic level, which took simple tasks and automated them, all the way to advanced automation powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). In general, automated solutions work to increase productivity and efficiency within businesses and often result in a reduction in costs associated with human capital.

 

Ron Benegbi

Why has the banking sector been slow to adopt automation?

The banking sector has been built on a number of long-standing, tried and tested processes and protocols, which have been continually fortified and refined over time. This is one explanation as to why the sector has been so slow in adopting new, automated methods within its operations. Additionally, many major financial institutions have spent decades building their own internal legacy computer systems, which are often incompatible with modern automated solutions.

When combined, these two issues have caused a significant lag in the banking sector with regards to the adoption of automated technologies. This lag has created a market opportunity that a number of fintech providers have been able to exploit in recent years. Offering a more responsive and tech-first user experience, many fintech providers are leveraging the power of automation to better meet the banking needs of their customers. However, there is still time for the banking sector to start bridging this gap.

 

Does automation have a place in the banking sector?

The opportunity for automation to play a role within banking can be transformational.

To achieve this, it’s important that legacy organizations begin to learn from their more tech-savvy, smaller counterparts. If used effectively, automated financial solutions can greatly improve the experience of banking customers, both on a personal and business level. So, what exactly does this change look like, and how far away are we from seeing it become a reality?

A good place to start is the small business credit lending process, where not much has changed since the 1980’s. Over that period, the world has greatly transformed, but the methods used to assess credit worthiness have remained somewhat static. For the most part, banks assess data related to businesses’ accounting and banking records and from credit scores. For many businesses, especially the newer and less established ones, this antiquated approach is having a detrimental effect. In fact, it’s often cited as a contributor to the huge funding gap between SMBs and their larger counterparts.

 

How can automation benefit the banking sector?

By adopting more automated technologies, lenders in the banking sector can begin to assess more comprehensive information when making credit decisions. Notably, new methods exist, which enable additional data sets to be evaluated, in order to build a more accurate financial depiction of a business’ overall position. This data can come from sources like external market attributes, economic indicators, demographic data and exogenous shocks.

By leveraging additional data sets through new methods of financial automation, banks are now in a position to respond more effectively to small businesses, including those in emerging and evolving markets where there is a lack of conventional sources of information.

With more ways to access funding, facilitated by alternative data and automated processes, small business owners can improve their operational efficiencies and accelerate their growth efforts. In doing so, legacy oriented financial institutions can now better equip themselves in protecting against new, nimbler tech-based disruptors.

 

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Banking

MYTH BUSTING THE ROLE OF OPEN SOURCE IN FINANCIAL SERVICES

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Nigel Abbott, Regional Director North EMEA, GitHub

 

There is no denying the financial services (FS) industry is under pressure to innovate. Not only have customer and consumer expectations for digital experiences surged in recent years, but the emergence of nimble and ambitious fintechs have disrupted the market. Yet, despite striving for innovation being table stakes across the industry, FS organisations inevitably face familiar hurdles that slow their progress, including concerns surrounding security, compliance, and the ability to act fast.

Open source is increasingly seen as a route to drive innovation and create new value. The FS sector’s utilisation of open source and the transformative role it can play is accelerating – on paper, at least. According to the recent Fintech Open Source Foundation’s (FINOS) 2021 State of Open Source in Financial Services survey, as many as 80 percent of FS leaders said that innovation, reduced time-to-market and total cost of ownership are factors for FS businesses to consume open source.

Nigel Abbott, Regional Director North EMEA -GitHub

But the reality is these positive adoption figures don’t tell the whole story. The survey also revealed that 75 percent of FS technology leaders said their businesses are either not “open source first”, or that they did not know if they were. Tellingly, less than one in ten (eight per cent) said that their business has put in place policies to encourage open source contribution.

The statistics point towards disparity between uptake of open source and the ability to use it to its full potential. But why?

For me, it comes down to some common myths about the role of open source that need demystifying:

 

Myth #1: There are limits to the innovation that open source can deliver

This could not be further from the truth. All enterprises, including FS companies, rely on open source software to build the best software for their customers, improve infrastructure, and unlock the potential of their engineering teams. Nationwide, for example, has completely redesigned its DevOps processes to respond faster to market changes and keep pace with customer expectations to remain relevant. The impact is transformative when they actively embrace it and participate fully in the open source community, creating a win-win situation for end-users. 

 

Myth #2: Data can be shared without consent 

Quite the opposite. Open source does not require FS businesses to share all their secrets and give away their competitive advantage. Instead, taking an “innersource” approach allows financial institutions to take the skills of developers who are accustomed to using open source tools and brings these inside the company firewall, providing a secure internal platform for working collaboratively on projects.

 

Myth #3: Open source is not secure

The most common misconception is that higher security risks are associated with code being openly available to anyone who uses it. But the open concept is, in fact, one of the biggest security strengths of open source. This is because of the collaborative nature of how code is built. The open source community has a shared responsibility for developing and maintaining secure code, and there is a vast global pool of developers identifying and fixing security issues. Supported by the right tools and processes, open source makes it easier for developers to code securely throughout the entire software development lifecycle, reducing the amount of time and financial investment in delivering secure products. Research from Red Hat found that security is regarded as a top benefit for enterprises using open source.

 

Myth #4: The open source community lacks finance sector contributors

This is untrue. Financial enterprises of all shapes and sizes are prominent participants in the open-source community and lead by example, sharing meaningful code contributions. Challenger banks and institutions such as Goldman Sachs contribute to open source initiatives via FINOS. By opening their code and ideas, FS companies can share lessons and support the whole community – helping them deliver better services and more value to their customers. And crucially, they are advancing a community that they can systematically tap into and benefit from.

Open source is already delivering innovation in the FS sector. But the bottom line is that there is so much extra value it can bring. Unlocking the full potential of open source to effect change does not just require buying DevOps tools. Open source requires organisation-wide understanding and support, a culture of collaboration and a progressive DevOps and governance process to thrive. Only then can it deliver its true value and accelerate innovation.

 

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