When Did We Start Taking Payment Security Seriously?


Research from the consumer and business insights expert, Equifax, has revealed that security when inputting financial information online is more important to British consumers than convenience or speed of making purchases and using the site. 66% of those surveyed feel the importance of security is of utmost priority, with the figure skewed towards those of an older generation. Those surveyed also claimed they would prefer slower sites if the security was stronger. With 20% of all sales coming from online, the fact that consumers understand the importance of online security is a bonus for businesses who are also security-focused. But, when did we start to take payment security seriously?

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The Rise of Cybercrime

One of the biggest watershed moments when we look at online security is the report of so many cases of fraud, cybercrime, and distress caused by the theft of financial information. What is probably more important to consumers is the steps they need to take in order to rectify anything stolen – and many people are trapped in a gray area where they are unable to recoup all of their losses. The threat of this happening has helped consumers open their eyes to the dangers – and online businesses have been forced to provide the levels of security that consumers expect to protect them.

According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018 for the United Kingdom, 43% of businesses had a security breach in the last year. While the major US cities where online businesses operate from are all at risk, Silicon Valley’s own home of the state of California lost $214 million to cybercrime alone. While the Official Cybercrime Report 2017 indicated that cybercrime will cost $6 trillion annually by 2021. Compare this to 2015’s figure of $3 trillion and its clear that with the threat of cybercrime growing, consumers and businesses alike are demanding more robust online security measures.

The Government Steps In

Not only do consumers demand cybercrime defenses, but the government of the USA and the EU have both implemented measures to protect consumers from online business fraud. In order to ensure the level of cybersecurity affords businesses the greatest chance at protection, there are a number of compliances that businesses must adhere to.

For instance, PCI DSS Compliance means mainly affects businesses taking online payments and the storage of financial data, which have a stringent 11 high-level requirements for a business to be able to operate. This protects the consumer’s data and also prevents the business from being liable for any cybercrime that could otherwise have been prevented. Businesses following the compliance should have processes in place for sensitive information and ensure that user accounts are policed in a vigorous manner.

The EU’s legislation of GDPR, which affects any business working with EU citizen data, has improved baseline security due to it being adopted by a majority of global businesses. GDPR protects consumers by placing heavy fines on companies that don’t have strong cybersecurity. It also ensures that any breaches are reported in good time to further protect consumers.

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The Cost of Cybercrime to Business

Data breaches are prevalent in the US with 72% of all worldwide data breaches occurring there. No matter how small the payment, breaches and fraud can occur. Often, the smaller the transaction, the easier it is for the information to be stolen because we are laxer when making smaller purchases. Indeed, eBay has experienced around 145 million of these data breaches, with Home Depot experiencing 109 million and even Domino’s Pizza with 650,000 data breaches. This shows that its not just the stores like Neiman Marcus (350,000 breaches) or financial brokers like JP Morgan Chase (83 million) who are being affected for larger volumes of cash transferred, but those who may be spending $20 on takeout.

This data visualization shows the full extent of breaches for those who may be inputting personal financial information online, whether we actively consider that we are doing so or not. The rise of cybercrime when it comes to making payments online has forced businesses and consumers to begin tackling the problem. Luckily, there are many ways in which we can help protect ourselves and businesses are being forced to protect us from their end too.  

Online businesses began to take payment security seriously when three things happened simultaneously. Firstly, consumers understood the risks involved when inputting financial information online and making online payments – and began to demand that businesses take heed of their concerns to ensure they were as protected as can be. Secondly, official bodies upped the ante with the level of security needed and the consequences of not providing the necessary level of security. Finally, other businesses began to feel the heat of cybercrime and acted as cautionary tales for those who had yet to have a negative experience. We are beginning to take payment security seriously because we are seeing just how dangerous a threat it can be when left unchecked.