European Central Bank concerned over mobile payments security


The ever growing innovation on the mobile payments market, from contactless cards to digital wallets, has attracted the attention of the European Central Bank (ECB), which has launched a public consultation on mobile payments security for all involved stakeholders. EURACTIV France reports.

The institution’s board of governors launched a public consultation on 15 November to improve its recommendations on mobile payment security. Relevant stakeholders should send their comments to the ECB by 31 January 2014.

New risks

The bank noted that security risks are on the rise with the development of new technologies. 

“The establishment of harmonised European high-level recommendations for the security of mobile payments is expected to contribute to mitigating payment fraud and enhancing consumer trust in mobile payments,” the ECB stressed in its temporary recommendations.

The Frankfurt-based financial institution identified a number of risk factors. On the one hand, the current generation of mobile devices and operating systems doesn’t take into account the necessary precautions to ensure security of payments. On the other hand, data transmission via mobile devices is less safe than other means of payment.

The ECB also points to the lack of awareness-raising and information campaigns for consumers.

Other important market actors have also underlined that security of mobile payments as a matter of trust in banking institutions.

François Villeroy de Galhau, director general of BNP Paribas, said that “the asset of the banks in this context is that we are a trusted actor”, citing a trust survey conducted by the French research company Ipsos.

The study revealed that 77% of French citizens trusted their bank for mobile payments. Only 12% said they trusted large digital companies like Google or Amazon.

For BNP Paribas, security is the biggest obstacle in the development of the mobile payment market. 94% of consumers expressed concern over these issues.

However, the market keeps growing despite consumer fears. Visa Europe estimates that by 2020, 50% of payments will be made through mobile devices.

BNP’s director general is confident mobile payments will indeed become a non-exclusive but central payment mode.

This expanding market attracts many potential candidaties. Banks of course, digital companies, but also recently the US company, Boku, specialised in micropayments.

BNP Paribas has multiplied its innovations in different European countries. It is currently testing the digital wallet Paylib in France, which gives consumers a username and a single security code for all of their future payments.

Another innovation is the Smartphone Mobo in France, Italy and Belgium. It allows shops with little banking transactions to enjoy a low cost payment terminal. The Easytranfer services provides a peer—to-peer mobile payment service.

The updated Payment Services Directive (PSD II), published by the European Commission last July, aims to cover regulatory and security challenges posed by a range of new mobile payments services expected to explode onto the European scene over the next two years.

The new rules form part of the Commission’s broader aim to promote a single European Payments Area (SEPA) and will seek to create a more competitive payments card market that reflects the explosion in the use of online and mobile payments.

According to a draft of the new rules, the EU executive earmarked as a key source of concern “the legal vacuum for certain newly emerged internet service providers, such as third-party service providers offering online banking-based payment initiation”.

  • 31 Jan. 2014: End of the ECB’s public consultation on mobile payment services.

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