Electronic payment services are just about everywhere now, and no, we’re not talking here about just credit cards and ATM services, which have, of course, been around for much longer.
Electronic payment options range from mobile digital wallets (think Apple Pay) to touch-to-pay services during checkout, to app-based payment and money transfer services like PayPal and Venmo.
Though many of us have become accustomed to using these financial tools on a regular basis, there are still many who are uneasy about this new technology, as well as others who are largely unaware of these developments.
No matter which of these categories you happen to fall into, we’re about to walk you through some of the most important things you need to know about electronic payment services in their many forms, including convenience factors and security concerns.
We’ll be doing all of this with the help of Fintech expert Gyorgy Tomso. Tomso has an impressive pedigree in the Fintech space. He was instrumental in expanding the reach of Euronet Worldwide, Inc., as well as leading growth for Sia Central Europe and establishing advanced performance monitoring within Pay U.S.A., which resulted in significant savings and growth for the company.
Tomso has also been a consistent supporter of applying emerging technology, including Machine Learning, to reduce risk and prevent fraud.
Now let’s move on and talk about what you need to know about electronic payment options.
The age of electronic payment
One note that we need to share right at the start is that this is not an article about a brand new technology that may, someday, enter the mainstream, and that’s because electronic payment services are already a part of daily life for most people.
In truth, these services have been surfacing over the last several years, as payment options have become more and more integrated with devices we use all the time.
However, the most significant normalization of electronic payment services came about thanks to the unforeseen circumstances of 2020. Tomso elaborates:
“Unfortunate environmental and health conditions accelerated the acceptance in our day-to-day life. People got used to buying almost anything online or paying with their mobile app at the checkout instead of using a card or cash. The shift that we witnessed in the last couple of months was a huge leap in a user behavioral change which was projected to take several more years.”
The circumstances themselves have been naturally suited to electronic payment. There’s less of a need for physical contact, which immediately made it a safer and more considerate option for just about everyone who needed to do some shopping in-person.
There are many more benefits to electronic payment services, of course, but we’ll be talking about those in a bit.
For now, it’s important to highlight that electronic payment isn’t just the future of payment and money transfers, it’s the present as well.
The biggest benefits
Let’s take a moment to talk about some of the objective benefits of these payment and money management methods.
For the uninitiated, one of the most common iterations of online payment tech is the mobile wallet. Basically, this is a purely virtual wallet that can be accessed by the user via one of their mobile devices, which can be a smartphone, a smartwatch, or another piece of portable tech.
Another version of electronic payment is purchasing something through a website, and as Tomso explains here, a lot of the advantages have to do with convenience and ease of use.
“Paying for goods and services has never been more convenient than using mobile devices. Simply tap, pay, and go. A mobile wallet is often easier and faster than swiping or inserting a card. And web-based one-click payment solutions save payment information in a safe and secure environment.”
Electronic payments are simply easier for users on multiple levels, and, even more importantly, over just the last few years more and more physical retail stores have integrated tech into their payment systems that allows for the use of mobile wallets, alongside traditional payment methods.
As Tomso mentioned, online retailers for years now have offered users the ability to save their personal information, including payment information, with a site account.
You’ve no doubt encountered this before. No matter what you’re trying to buy, the site will strongly encourage you to create an account, maybe even offering a discount if you decide to do so.
But as you might expect, sharing this valuable personal information with an outside party comes with a certain amount of risk, which brings us to our next topic.
The question of safety
In any discussion about electronic payment services, security is always going to be one of the most crucial topics.
When dealing with data this vital, security has to be top-notch. Otherwise, the financial wellbeing of affected users could quickly be put in jeopardy.
But as recent years have shown, major companies are not immune to cyberattacks, and a great deal of personal information has been compromised during these attacks.
This is not to say that electronic payment services aren’t safe to use, and as Tomso pointed out, electronic payments are actually much safer than traditional payment methods. Still, there is always a certain level of risk.
“Mobile payments are safer than physical cards and cash, but they aren’t hacker-proof. There are built-in features that limit potential financial loss in case a phone gets lost or stolen. New biometric authentication methods present a superior level of security. We all need to be a part of keeping our devices safe by using the latest authentication features.”
Not only are electronic payment services and online retailers constantly tweaking and improving their cybersecurity and fraud prevention measures, but the biometric authentication Tomso mentioned above is both sophisticated and easy to use.
When both users and payment services work together to maintain security, it becomes much more difficult for attackers to succeed, and that’s a very important takeaway.
If you’ve been wondering whether it’s safe to use electronic payment services, the short answer is yes. But an important caveat is that users need to also take an interest in protecting their information.
On a basic level, that means using strong passwords and not reusing passwords across different sites. It also means staying alert to potential phishing and other attempts to get you to share your personal information with an untrustworthy site.
A necessity for difficult times
We already touched on this briefly toward the start of the article, but it’s impossible to ignore just how important electronic payment services have become during 2020.
Just take a minute to imagine a quarantine scenario where the population could only shop for groceries and necessary items and could only do it in-person at a physical store. The economic impact on every other industry would have been enormous and potentially irreversible.
Having the option to buy both necessities and non-essential items using electronic payments has not only been a boon to many industries whose physical sales were drastically limited, but it’s also been a lifeline to at-risk individuals who can’t spend time in public right now.
Appropriately, Tomso sees the critical value of electronic payment options, especially in reference to the past year.
“Now, users are not really thinking about the underlying technology. They want to have a seamless experience that enables them to pay in a secure and convenient way. Today, digital payments are making it possible for the economy and life to go on, helping people to settle into the new norm.”
During the pandemic in particular, there’s just no arguing that electronic payment is the safest option for the average user and certainly the easiest form of payment to execute as well.
Regardless of each person’s feelings on the nature and the reliability of electronic payment services, they will indeed only become more common in the coming years.
In a way, adapting to electronic payment options is just going to be a requirement for most people in the same way that it was a de facto requirement to get a debit or credit card many years ago.
Very simply, it is the new norm. However, compared to the early days of credit cards, transitioning to electronic payments is much easier, and as we’ve already discussed, most people have already done it in some form.
Even so, Tomso is looking forward to the advancements that will be made over the next several years, which will only make usage easier and security tighter.
“There will be further development of customer experience, easy payment methods, and improving seamless engagement. There will also be a larger focus on biometric authentication, from simple fingerprint recognition to voice-activated transactions supported by AI-driven customer behavior to improve financial offerings and reduce fraud.”
To summarize our exploration here, yes, it’s safe to use electronic payment services, especially if you stay wary about your security, and yes, electronic payments will only become more ubiquitous in the future.
In the end, it’s all good news for the average user since these services are the safest and most convenient out there today.