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Is Loss Prevention Ready for Mobile Payments?

Posted on 10/4/12 10:00 AM

The evolution of retail technology; shoe-box registers led to point-of-sale systems which begot self-checkout systems that advanced into self-scanning which continues to evolve into mobile payment. Where technology will lead us, only time will tell however we had better be ready to protect our inventory, monies and data from the hazards that may cross our paths along the way. Are you ready for mobile payments?

Mobile payment is the next wave of technology advancing quickly across the retail industry. Whether mobile payments are Near Field Communication (NFC) tap-to-pay options from your smartphone or replacing registers with mobile payment from a smartphone or tablet, there are concerns that need to be addressed to protect your business.

Secure Devices & Data Transmissions

There is a plethora of mobile smartphones available in today’s marketplace, many of them still not designed to properly secure data transmission from a mobile payment system.  There are some devices that do exist with secured chips integrated into their hardware, but if choosing a device, do your homework to ensure your device is secure. Secure from what?

MobilePOSThere have been reports of some applications (apps) that have been found to have “Trojan horse-like” code within them that can, on occasion, scan a device to pick up data via a mobile payment system. Some of these apps have been designed to be used for other things with this “rogue code” installed in order to occasionally “wake up” and scan the device for information.

How you protect your devices is something you want to discuss with your IT team, mobile payment provider and those determining your hardware and device selection. Some other ways of protecting data would be to only use the devices for mobile payment, limited any additional use related to texting, internet, phone usage, etc. You can learn more about mobile device best practices at  Visa Security Best Practices for Mobile Payment Acceptance Solutions.


Establish Proper Policies & Procedures

As with any new method or procedure involving store operations, it is imperative to have written policies and procedures to help associates understand how to operate.  However you decide to utilize mobile payment technology, develop (write) and communicate (train) all levels of associates on the various aspects of mobile payment including;

  • Differences between mobile payment and point-of-sale payments

  • Handling customer issues involving mobile payments

  • Preventing potential loss against customers using mobile payments

When developing new policies and procedures include different departments so those involved in all aspects of your business can determine how they need to change current policies, procedures and even reporting to best protect your business. A lesson learned from the past involved the fast migration to plastic gift cards. Many retailers moved forward implementing gift card programs without preparing their business for potential fraudulent use of the cards, systemic issues or even customer concerns.


Handling Loss Prevention Issues in a Mobile World

The concerns related to fraud and the security of the data involving mobile payment solutions continues to raise questions. Mobile payment solutions will require loss prevention professionals to act and respond differently to many potential theft or loss situations. Just a few potential situations include;

  • How will Near Field Communication payments, E-receipts and Self-scanning on the sales floor change how loss prevention monitors potential shoplifting? Where is the last point of purchase in a mobile environment?

  • With mobile payments via smart devices on the sales floor, will retail locations now have adequate video coverage to capture transactions that occur outside a specific register area?

  • How will we prevent credit card skimming, common already in restaurants and retail? Attachments, applications and additional devices are so small and common, how will customers know their data is secure?

Unfortunately, we can’t provide you with a specific answer today as to how to best prevent loss through the use of this technology. But as we continue to stay informed on this upcoming technology we will work to keep you informed.

Written by David Johnston, Director of Business Development

What are your concerns involving Mobile Payments? Share them with our readers so we all can be more educated on this changing technology.

Topics: Loss Prevention program and development, policies and procedures

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