04 Nov 2016

It’s Convenience Versus Security For Digital Transactions

With each emerging technology or social media channel, retailers are on a never-ending quest to turn viewers into consumers. This is shifting how we shop and interact with retail businesses. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all have their shopping tools to drive digital transactions. And this week, Instagram CEO Marne Levine, who is focused on building the platform for advertisers, announced that it’s testing an interesting feature.

Users in the US will see a shopping tag next to ‘shoppable’ images in their feed, which the photo sharing site hopes will make it easier for brands to direct shoppers to products. When clicked, the tag redirects users to a product page with more details and links to the site where they can purchase. The bigger issue is that shopping and social media are arguably two of the most appealing aspects of the internet, do we really want to mix payment with pleasure?

If retailers meet our demand, the answer is yes. On mobile we want to quickly tap and buy. It’s frustrating to go all the way through to complete the sale on your smartphone, only to find it difficult to input card and shipping details to finalise the purchase. For retailers, this translates into cart abandonment.

Instagram’s new feature is not exactly seamless, but it’s streamlining the number of clicks it takes us to get from seeing and owning, so it could be the answer both parties are looking for. According to Walker Sands’ 2015 Future of Retail Study, 32 percent of consumers said they were likely to make a purchase on social media in the last year. While Twitter’s e-commerce attempts have faltered, 93 percent of people on Pinterest have used the platform to plan for purchases. It’s visual content that inspires us to buy in-the-moment.  Levine says the most important thing is relevance – understanding who you’re trying to target and putting the right stories in front of the right person and the right time.

With mobile increasingly the platform of choice for how we consume the internet, retail needs to rethink how they present the online shopping experience. Instagram’s trial is an interesting step in the right direction.

Contactless Cards Carry Risks. Or Do They?

One area of digital shopping that Australians have been quick to embrace is contactless cards. We have the highest use of tap-and-go in the world. Not so in the US, where retailers remain cautious about the fraud risks. The New York Times this week published concerns that fraud levels – potentially equivalent to millions of dollars of illegal transactions – will soar if contactless cards make a comeback. In Britain, researchers have been able to copy the financial details of some cards, by merely passing their own NFC reader close to a person’s wallet.

Australia, it seems is more concerned with convenience than it is security risks. Which would be worrying, except the jury is still out on how big the risks actually are. While it’s technically feasible for someone to read the card in your wallet why you are sitting on the train, it’s not clear that it’s happening.

Most of the problems stem from how contactless has been implemented in Australia. Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay said they were behind a 5 per cent increase in the crime rate in 2014, but this was due to people physically stealing cards and using them to make a series of purchases under $100, so they did not need a PIN.  Worrying about readers stealing your card details is, at least for now, a little like obsessing over counterfeiters when the more likely problem is someone nicking the cash in your wallet.

The New York Times piece suggests that the security conscious can put foil in their wallets to block unauthorised readers, but the most useful piece of advice is one that applied long before tap-and-go became a way of life. Namely, be wary of letting it out of your sight.

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