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Consumers Still Wary Of How Companies Handle Payment Data

April 5, 2017

The number of large, high-profile data breaches affecting consumers across the country grows all the time, and the effect these incidents have on consumers seems to now encompass far more than just the financial aspects of their lives.

The number of large, high-profile data breaches affecting consumers across the country grows all the time, and the effect these incidents have on consumers seems to now encompass far more than just the financial aspects of their lives. Indeed, the cumulative effect of all these breaches seems to be that consumers are now concerned about how safe their sensitive information is when companies try to protect it.

Today, only 43 percent of consumers living in 20 countries around the world say they trust businesses, including restaurants and merchants, to properly safeguard their financial data, according to a new study from ACI Worldwide and the Aite Group titled “Global Consumer Survey: Consumer Trust and Security Perceptions.” Fortunately, respondents in the U.S. were more bullish than the global average, with 54 percent saying they have at least some confidence in how companies store and protect payment data.

Merchant data breaches remain a big concern among consumers.Merchant data breaches remain a big concern among consumers.

What Are People Worried About?
The biggest concern worldwide when it comes to keeping payment information safe is having data stolen in hacking attacks, cited as their largest single concern by nearly 1 in 3 respondents in the U.S., the report said. And when companies suffer breaches, nearly 2 in 3 people worldwide said that would affect their future patronage of those companies. Interestingly, though, 80 percent of consumers around the world say they believe mobile wallet-based transactions are safe. 

“Our research shows that consumers want to proactively manage fraud, particularly by leveraging mobile technology – whether it’s text or talk,” said Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst at the Aite Group. “This willingness opens opportunities for financial institutions to optimize the ways in which they reach out and communicate with consumers, ultimately improving the customer experience while reducing operational costs and fraud losses.”

Illustrating The Issues
These concerns are highlighted any time a well-known brand suffers a data breach, as the fast food chain Arby’s recently did, according to KrebsOnSecurity. The breach was first discovered in January, and sprang from malware that had been put on payment systems inside corporate-owned Arby’s locations, of which about 1,100 exist nationwide. It is unclear at this time how many people were affected, but the infection seems to have lasted for nearly four months.

“Although there are over 1,000 corporate Arby’s restaurants, not all of the corporate restaurants were affected,” Christopher Fuller, Arby’s senior vice president of communications, told the site. “But this is the most important point: That we have fully contained and eradicated the malware that was on our point-of-sale systems.”

This is why consumer trust in mobile wallets is important, according to the Associated Press. These payment platforms necessarily have added layers of security built into them at a number of stages, helping to keep actual credit card data protected often even in the event of a widespread data breach. As the technology becomes more ubiquitous among merchants, it’s expected that consumers will continue to warm to it.

With all this in mind, the sooner merchants of all sizes can adopt more secure payment platforms, including EMV and mobile, the more likely they will be to meet consumers’ evolving expectations of data security.

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