Scott Malby – Channel Manager

Despite the numerous cases of data breaches splashed across news headlines in the last twelve months, you would think that the data security message would have sunk in with consumers. But this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Research we conducted earlier this year showed that 40% of people are putting their payment card details at risk, simply by reading them aloud in a public space. This compares with only 22% of consumers in a similar survey we conducted in 2014. Clearly, people are becoming more complacent.

I witnessed a perfect example of this just the other week. Given the nature of my role at Semafone, I spend a fair amount of my time travelling up and down the country visiting partners and customers. One train journey recently stands out in my mind. And unfortunately it wasn’t down to the fine selection of snacks on the on board refreshment trolley!

It was a 7.36am rush hour service from Euston to Warrington, not a spare seat in sight. The aisles and exits were occupied with standing commuters unfortunate enough not to get a seat. A lady was sat opposite me on the phone to her car insurer discussing her policy. After quite a few minutes of talking, the conversation moved towards how she was going to pay for her next year’s cover, to which the lady replied ‘I’ll pay by card please’.

I was intrigued as to how the transaction was going to be completed. The lady reached into her purse, selected a card, and began to read aloud her card numbers to the contact centre agent, as well as at least 50 other people in the same train carriage.

After the first 6 numbers, I looked around the train to see almost everyone either on a smartphone, laptop or tablet, and started to think about who could be writing this card information down. Unsurprisingly, there has been some miss-communication between agent and customer, and the lady went ahead and repeated all 16 digits of her card. Just in case anyone hadn’t had a chance the first time round, they now had a second stab at stealing her details.

The transaction eventually completed after what sounded like a game of card information ping pong between the insurer and policy holder. I wondered if her car insurance policy included cover against card fraud…

Ultimately it is the responsibility of that insurer to accept card payments securely, and it was astonishing to see them using such a frivolous approach. With high profile data breaches becoming ever more frequent, brand reputation at risk, and the prospect of significant financial fines it seemed bizarre that this method of collecting sensitive data was still being used. By using Semafone’s patented technology, it avoids the need for anyone to verbalise any card information, making it easier and safer to process payments, especially when in public spaces.

I’d like to think the lady on my train didn’t fall victim to any sort of card fraud that day, but unfortunately it’s difficult to say if the other 50 or so people on the carriage had the same view.

The Numbers Don’t Lie – Consumers are Complacent about Payment Card Security

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