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How to Protect Your Customer's Data with Mobile Payment Processing

15th Dec 2015
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Mobile payment processing is undoubtedly convenient. Whether you own a small shop, a restaurant, or another type of mobile business, such as a taxi or a cleaning service, accepting credit card payments on your smartphone or tablet is quick, easy, and helps keep your customers happy.

Yet with the convenience of mobile credit card processing also comes some risk. There is no worse customer service nightmare than finding out that your customers’ sensitive finance information has been stolen or compromised.

While every credit card reader is potentially vulnerable to hacking, skimming, or other forms of fraud, the very nature of mobile readers can potentially increase those risks. Not to mention, there is evidence that criminals are targeting mobile readers when using stolen or fake credit cards.

To protect your customer-friendly business reputation, you need to take advantage of technology to ensure your readers and devices are secured, to protect your customers and your business.

The Top 3 Security Risks in Mobile Payment Processing

The first step to ensuring such security is understanding the major threats to mobile card readers. These usually fall into one of three categories:

Stolen or Fake Cards

This risk isn’t limited only to mobile payment processing, as merchants have been dealing with fake cards for decades. However, the recent shift over to EMV cards, has decreased use of fake cards in traditional payment terminals — and increased the risk that they will focus their efforts in places where the chips don’t offer any additional protection, such as online transactions and mobile readers.

While this doesn’t affect your customers directly, dealing with added costs of fraud could cause you to increase your prices or shut down entirely, neither of which is helpful for your customers.


Some experts predict that the greatest risk to mobile payment processing has nothing to do with the readers themselves, but with the mobile applications used to process and manage payments. Thus far, hackers have not been successful in targeting payment applications, but they can access any unsecured networks that merchants use to process payments, and “spy” on the data being sent and received.

Having your processor hacked is obviously bad for your customers since the data being stolen is their financial information. Many small businesses don’t survive the aftermath of a hack due to the severe hit of the original hack and the resulting loss of revenue from customers who don’t trust them with their credit card info anymore.

Device Loss or Theft

Since mobile payment processing tools are designed to be used on the go and attached to smartphones or tablets, there is a greater chance of the device itself being lost or stolen than with a traditional payment processor.

If a criminal gets his or her hands on an unsecured mobile device that is used for payments, it’s only a matter of time before they can access the data they want to steal — and your customers’ credit card information.

Protecting Your Mobile Payment Processor

The good news is that so far, mobile payment processing has been safe, with no major reported security breaches. That’s thanks in large part to merchant’s efforts to secure their devices and protect customers.

If you are new to mobile payment processing, or just want to take extra steps to protect your payments and customers, consider some of these important security tasks:

Lock and Secure Your Device

The best way to keep your payment apps safe is to protect your device. When it’s not in use, lock it using a passcode; if your device allows, use two-factor or biometric tools to prevent unauthorized access. Do not stay logged in to your payment apps, or store your password in case the device is lost or stolen. Also, take advantage of your phone’s settings to allow for remote locking and wiping if it is lost or stolen.

Install Antivirus/Malware on Your Device

While some may have questioned the value of antivirus protection for mobile in the past, the increasing number of viruses attacking mobile devices has changed their tune. If you are taking payments on your device, there is no excuse for not protecting it against malware.

Learn the Signs of Credit Card Fraud

Again, criminals are likely to begin targeting those payment processors that do not yet have chip capabilities, so learn the signs of fraud and take steps against them. For example, avoid entering credit card numbers manually, always check signatures, and use card verification numbers to avoid running fraudulent transactions. If shipping merchandise, be wary of shipping and billing addresses that don’t match. Your customers will benefit in the long run from prices that aren’t inflated by fraud.

Keep Your Operating System Updated

Mobile operating systems often contain security upgrades and fixes, so keep them up to date. Also, avoid using jailbroken or rooted phones for payments, as that reduces security protections and increases the likelihood of liability if fraud does occur. An updated system also helps your business run more smoothly and makes your customers happy.

Only Use Secure, Encrypted Networks

Finally, any time you are sending payment data via mobile, be sure you are on a secure, encrypted network to prevent hackers from seeing the data you send. Also, suggest that your customers only use secure networks when they shop as well; they will appreciate your extra attention to security on their behalf.

Many of the strategies for protecting mobile payments are the same as those for protecting your own data when shopping on your phone. However, as a merchant, your potential liability for fraud increases, so it’s vital that you protect your data. Follow these steps, and you will be sure to keep your customers happy and keep up your great reputation for amazing customer service.

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