Security, compliance challenges hamper mobile payments

Industry players say not knowing consumers' buying habits as well as differing regulatory regimes and lack of security standards hampering development of mobile payments industry.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor on

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--Lack of consumer behavior insights, regulatory challenges and securing payment transactions continue to hamper companies' efforts in pushing mobile payments options, according to industry insiders.

Anju Aggarwal, deputy director of strategy at Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) Group, said mobile payments is a "new opportunity" for market players, citing a KPMG study in April that predicted global mobile payments industry to hit US$900 billion by 2015. She was speaking during a panel discussion held during the CommunicAsia trade fair here on Wednesday.

The opportunities are created because more customers are paying their bills and doing more banking activities on their mobile devices, she added.

However, service providers continue to be hampered by longstanding issues such as lack of insight on consumer behavior as well as regulatory and security challenges. Aggarwal said that without knowing customers' full buying behavior, this would hinder efforts to develop value-added mobile payments services for them such as loyalty programs or discounts for the retail outlets they frequent.

Shirish Wadivkar, global product head of deposits & payments at Standard Chartered Bank's group retail banking products department, added that regulatory challenges for companies persist in developed countries. He explained during the same panel discussion on Wednesday that these markets have tighter regulations set by the government and, as such, hinder companies from deploying mobile payments products. 

"What we have now is an ecosystem developing across many regulators, and countries pushing [for companies] to meet them," he said. "It is not going to be easy to get around these corners."

The Standard Chartered executive added that securing payments made on mobile devices is another key challenge, especially among banks where maintaining the integrity of such transactions is paramount.

Wadivkar's assessment echoed Bob Russo, general manager of Payment Card Industry (PCI) Council, who said last week that the mobile payments industry has been complicated by the entrance of new merchants unaware of security best practices and vendors prioritizing convenience over security when developing mobile technologies. He then called for industry standards to be established across the industry.

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