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QR codes could leave consumers vulnerable

February 28, 2012

QR codes are a cheaper option to near field communication (NFC) mobile payment technology, but they might also be riskier

QR codes are a cheaper option to near field communication (NFC) mobile payment technology, but they might also be riskier. Mobile payments are expected to take over in the next few years as consumers invest in smartphones and tablets.

Mostly, discussions have centered around NFC and EMV technology, but QR codes have emerged as an easier-to-deploy competitor. A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can quickly be printed, posted and scanned by consumers. Retailers don’t need any special equipment to use them, and customers only need a smartphone with a camera.

Near field technology, on the other hand, does require an investment in mobile credit card processing equipment on the retailer’s behalf. Customers would need to have a mobile device that’s embedded with an NFC chip and also download an application to use the services.

Although QR codes are cheaper upfront, they may cost both consumers and retailers in the long run because of weaker security, according to the Federal Reserve bank of Atlanta. There is no way to know if a QR code is linked to a malicious site or app and many users have not protected their mobile devices from viruses, which could ultimately lead to consumer payment fraud, the source reports. 

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