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Alternative payments convenient, but not safe, Canadians say

Alternative payments convenient, but not safe, Canadians say

Alternative payment methods are more available than ever before, with greater options to choose from and additional merchants accepting them now that they have the necessary machinery. But merchants shouldn't put their cash counters away just yet, as more customer currency, including polymer notes, could be coming their way. New research shows that few Canadians believe their money is safe when using alternative payment technology. 

That's according to a newly released survey conducted by Visa, which fielded responses from 1,000 Canadians on what they thought about the various purchase means they use to spend. 

Almost across the board, Canadians widely acknowledged payment methods such as contactless cards were highly convenient. Indeed, approximately 82 per cent of respondents said they considered chip-and-pin cards to be simple to use and 71 per cent said they used them regularly.

Canadians unimpressed by security bona fides

Yet despite this widely held belief, Canadians nevertheless recognize these options are vulnerable to potential attack from identity thieves. Specifically, less than half of respondents in the survey considered contactless cards "very secure" and even fewer expressed confidence in the resilience of digital wallets, according to the Visa poll. Just 35 per cent thought mobile wallets were safe from hacks and only 27 per cent trusted peer-to-peer websites.

This may explain why these methods aren't used by Canadians as often as cash, with just 9 per cent saying they regularly chose to pay for items and services with mobile apps and only 6 per cent routinely using digital wallets, the study found.

Banks investing in cybersecurity

As this is the "Internet of Things" era, Canadians are online all the time, giving identity thieves more opportunities to steal their sensitive data. Retailers and financial institutions are on the case, though, with an overwhelming majority of banking executives - 93 per cent - saying they've invested more of their company's capital into cybersecurity, according to polling conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Over the next two years, 52 per cent of these same executives believe data breaches have the potential to be the most disruptive economic force.

"Building trust between banks and customers is at the center of building a lasting cybersecurity strategy," said Jason Boggs, consulting leader of national financial services at PwC Canada. "Working with every level within the organization is key to manage cyber risk and safeguard a strong reputation."

Money counters will always have their utility. Several studies, including one performed by the Bank of Canada, have found most Canadians keep currency, including polymer notes, in their purses and wallets wherever they go.

April 24, 2018