Security has always been a primary concern for any online business. And when it comes to customer data and business ethics, there is nothing more important than payment security. The last thing a customer wants is to spend their whole week dealing with fraudulent charges because they used their card on the wrong site.
Proper payment security has the power to make or break your business — you could spend years establishing yourself as a trustworthy brand, and lose it all overnight thanks to a an online payments glitch.
Here is why payment security matters more than ever, especially for online businesses.
Related reading: 2018 Global Payment Industry Outlook
Security Scaremongering: Earn Their Respect
Whether you blame the news outlets or the people supporting them, it’s no secret that stories of disaster overshadow stories of everyday successes. As soon as something goes wrong with a payment portal or a brand loses customer data — the gloves come off.
It doesn’t matter if a system has worked flawlessly for five years — if the media shows up the day after it has a breach, the system is a goner.
Security scaremongering can make people feel vulnerable; creating a general feeling that their data is in far more danger than it actually is.
It is therefore your job to reassure and educate the customer, being transparent about how their data is being used and the measures you have in place to protect it. Trust is everything in ecommerce, so any corners you cut in the payment security department threaten to negatively impact your sales for years.
Payment Solutions People Trust
People put their trust in different payment solutions: if you want them to convert on your site, you better support their preferred method. It’s not enough to just support the major credit and debit cards; if you want to maximize conversions on your platform, you need to support the lesser known payment options too.
Services like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay are the top dogs you need to be supporting on your website or store. These handy online payment solutions are growing in popularity and are the preferred checkout method for many security-conscious customers (especially on mobile). These services add an additional layer of security while simultaneously providing a more convenient checkout experience — it’s a win-win scenario for everyone.
If you are selling directing on marketplaces like Amazon and the like, you can benefit from their security expertise, but that still doesn’t mean you can take a completely hands-free attitude to customer and payment security.
Your Customers Are Informed
In the early 2000’s when Ebay was experiencing its first major boom, users were still getting to grips with the internet and weren’t aware of all the different ways nefarious individuals could try to steal from them. Phishing emails and scams were highly successful, and it seemed like there was an endless stream of ‘green’ users coming online every day getting pulled into these schemes.
Fast forward to 2018,and the only people coming online for the first time are five year olds on their first tablet. Everyone else has years of experience on the web, and a pretty good idea of what a genuine and trustworthy online outfit should look like.
This means that customers know what to look for when going through your checkout process — and if something is missing they’re liable to get spooked and abandon their cart. They’re also more likely to know what websites have the best reputations and favor them over others.
In some ways, you have to be aware of potential user prejudices and work with them, even if they are not 100% founded. For example, users may query things like new domains that end in .io or .co, just because they haven’t seen them before. It’s best to select simple and clean web environment that has common trust signals, a simple shopping cart, and that integrates with all your customers’ favorite apps and tools.
Crime Never Sleeps
Online security is an arms race, and while there are always new innovations being made to improve security, the same thing is happening on the other side too.
Criminals across the globe are working tirelessly to crack your payment security and they have more tools than ever before. Small businesses are often perfect targets, since the ecommerce giants like Amazon have undoubtedly sunk millions of dollars into their security solutions. That’s not to say they’re impenetrable, but to someone looking to make a quick buck, the odds are against them.
43% of all phishing attacks in 2015 were targeted at small businesses. This poses a particular problem to small business owners since their area of expertise generally isn’t security technology; they can’t realistically be expected to keep up with someone who steals information for a living. Luckily there are a number free resources out there that can help tip the balance back in favor of the businesses. Get to grips with legislation and read up on the latest tools and tactics you can use to secure your site.
New Laws Coming In
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK’s Data Protection Bill (DPB) will be coming into force soon for businesses operating in the EU. When they do, one of the major changes is that companies will be forced to publicly announce any data breach involving customer information. It doesn’t matter what the information is, or how many people were affected, companies will be required by law to announce it in a timely fashion regardless.
To some people the prospect of being forced to publicly announce a data breach will seem like nothing when compared to the potential fines you could face for failing to comply with the new laws. Under GDPR you could face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of your annual turnover depending on which is larger just for having lax security, even if nothing happens!
Hopefully you now have a greater appreciation for the importance of excellent payment security. From media hype, to data protection law, to the security arms race, ensuring you have robust payment security benefits your business in countless ways.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how new business owners can get their brand off the ground. She is passionate about using her experience to help fellow entrepreneurs succeed.