Electronic payment

Making Sense of Security and Electronic Payment

The experts agree that the three pillars of electronic payment are reliability, performance, and security. Out of these three, security is the element critical to ensuring the confidence of the consumers who use payment cards and of the businesses which accept this form of payment. In this article, I will discuss some of the features of payment system security, as well as various useful tips which can help both consumers and merchants ensure their protection during transactions.

Canada at the Head of the Class

With the rollout of chip cards in the mid-aughts, Canadians saw a turning point in the evolution of payment cards. Since then, chip cards have helped to limit, and even decrease, what had been a growing rate of card fraud in Canada. In 2014, Interac reported fraud-related losses of $16.2 million out of $211 billion worth of point-of-sale transactions: a historic low.

However, despite having the proverbial spanner thrown in their works, fraudsters are not giving up, instead turning to more vulnerable targets. As shown by fraud data provided by the Canadian Bankers Association, this means a rise in fraudulent card applications, increased pressure on online payments, and fraudulent use of cards abroad.

As regards fraud committed outside the country, it bears noting that although the use of chip cards is widespread throughout Canada, the rollout of chip cards is only beginning in the United States. According to data published by MasterCard, US rollout of chip-card technology is estimated at 40% for cards and 25% for terminals. The process south of the Canadian border is thus set to take several years.

This means that a con artist could clone the magnetic stripe of a Canadian card and then use the clone on a US terminal which does not yet accept microchips. This poses a real threat, despite the sense of security which chip cards give Canadian consumers. Vigilance is therefore a must.

Some Good Habits for Consumers to Develop

Sound consumer practices and vigilance can help prevent fraud. Here is some simple advice to follow:

  • Always hide your PIN and protect your card.
  • Be on guard and do not use your card in a device which seems suspect.
  • Avoid stating your credit card number in emails or on paper forms.
  • Never give your credit card security code (three or four digits printed on the card) in writing.
  • Whenever you enter your personal information online, make sure that you are on a legitimate website and secure Web page (most browsers let you know by showing a lock in the page URL).
  • Report the loss or theft of a card as quickly as possible to your card issuer.

Making Security a Priority for Merchants

Merchants’ systems and sales processes remain key components in payment system security. There are a number of measures which merchants can take; as a merchant, you can, for example:

  • Comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the applicable validation requirements.
  • Use PCI-DSS-certified payment services and payment solutions certified under the PCI Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS).
  • Prevent, to the extent possible, your employees, your IT networks, and your systems from coming into contact with card numbers, in order to reduce your liability vis-à-vis the scope of PCI DSS.
  • Monitor your equipment, your networks, and your applications in order to spot anything suspicious.
  • Use point-of-sale payment solutions with point-to-point encryption.

Digital Security Is Everyone’s Business

As citizens, we all have a part to play in fraud prevention.

At ACCEO Solutions, we are proud to contribute to the implementation of secure payment systems. For more than 10 years now, we have been actively participating in numerous projects with Canada’s biggest financial institutions in order to carry out the migration to chip payment cards. Our Tender Retail solution was the first software in North America to incorporate EMV standards, and the Tender Retail team was the first in offering merchants a point-to-point encryption solution. Our e-ACCEPT payment gateway also has PCI DSS 3.1 certification.

Our experts are available to meet the needs of all merchants looking to optimize and secure their payment systems.


About the author

Nicolas Guay

Nicolas Guay

Senior Manager, Payment Solutions

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Nicolas Guay has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and over 20 years of experience in information technology, including more than 15 years in the payment field. Nicolas has been working at ACCEO Solution’s Payment Solutions unit since 2001. The Payment Solutions team, which is made up of approximately 100 seasoned professionals, is Canada’s largest and most important pool of electronic payment experts. In recent years, Nicolas has played a major role in the migration to chip and contactless technologies, working closely with many Canadian financial institutions.

ACCEO’s expertise covers all areas of electronic payment, and Nicolas is both delivery manager and product coordinator for ACCEO’s e-ACCEPT and Perceptech online payment services.

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