Safe Digital Payment Practices in Times Of Social Distancing

Safe Digital Payment Practices in Times Of Social Distancing

Coronavirus pandemic has mandated many institutions to rethink the usage of one surface that changes many hands

Coronavirus pandemic has mandated many institutions to rethink the usage of one surface that changes many hands Coronavirus pandemic has mandated many institutions to rethink the usage of one surface that changes many hands day-in and day-out that is cash and cards. The Indian Government, RBI and banks have urged citizens to use digital payments to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a result, there has been a spur in digital modes of payments, which will continue to rise in the days to come. This unexpected urgency has brought first-time users as well as users who are not very tech savvy too under the ambit of digital payments ecosystem.

In the last few years, especially since demonetisation, India’s digital payment infrastructure has strengthened significantly with the help of initiatives by the Govt. and Fintech players. For instance, introduction of innovative platforms like BHIM UPI, wallets, QR code, tap and pay and increase in merchant acceptance points by the way of smart POS terminals accepting multiple forms of digital payments.

Availability of such an ecosystem has ensured that day-to-day lives of people are not affected amidst such crisis. While the increased adoption of digital transactions plays an important role in reducing the risk of spreading the virus, it puts many at risk of cyber or online frauds. Basic precautions and vigilance like the following can avoid end-consumers falling prey to various online scams.

Never share UPI pin for receiving payment

One of the most common ways of duping people online is luring them into clicking on links that offer money. UPI is the most targeted for this fraud. The user is required to enter pin to authenticate ‘send’ payment only. In any case, user must refrain from clicking on any link which asks for financial details like a transaction PIN.

National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)

NCMC first drew attention in 2016 when the most awaited Automatic Fare Collection System (AFC) was introduced with Kochi Metro. In 2019, the Government of India introduced its first-ever indigenously developed payment platform: One Nation, One Card, to facilitate seamless travel through different metros and other transport systems.

Like Bank issued card/debit cards, it is a single card that can be used for payments across all segments including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail in addition to using ATM facilities.

Do not share OTP with anyone

Another common way of deceiving users is by asking for OTP. Though it is very easy to spot this scam, there are naïve or first-time users who might give in their details thinking it has something to do with their bank account security. Remember, your bank will never ask for your OTP or other sensitive details.

Beware of your online purchases
With many people quarantined at their homes, there will be an unprecedented increase in the sales of e-commerce platforms. Therefore, be extra cautious while clicking on pop-ups that seem lucrative on these sites. Chances are that they might be malicious. Ensure you have updated all important software like anti-virus installed on your system including smartphones.

Get your facts only from legitimate websites
Many people try to be updated with the latest developments about the pandemic. Scammers and fraudsters are known to take advantage of this. According to a report by cybersecurity firm Check Point Research, Coronavirus-themed domains 50 per cent more likely to be malicious. Users must seek information only from trusted websites like World Health Organisation.

Beware of Phishing
Phishing involves redirecting an online user to a seemingly official website where victims are tricked in to updating their personal information like bank account numbers or debit/credit card numbers. To be safe, hold yourself back from clicking on unfamiliar links on web pages, emails or text messages. If there is any mail which raises doubts, call your bank / friend/relative, from whomever you received the email and verify its authenticity.

Stay informed as much as possible
Regulatory bodies like RBI and networks like NPCI, Mastercard and Visa take various initiatives to ensure implementation of best payment practices. Absence of a clear understanding of such initiatives makes customers susceptible to online frauds, especially first-time users or those with limited digital knowledge. Therefore, take note of all important communications from your bank to stay updated with latest developments.
Despite frequent communication and customer education by the banks, there are still possibilities of online frauds as scamming techniques evolve with time. Such risks can be further minimised if banks integrate their systems with online real time fraud monitoring systems and actively tune the rules of such system. In a nutshell, while the banks, regulatory bodies, cybersecurity agencies and payment providers ensure we get best and secure payment platforms, its success will largely depend on how safe our digital practices are.

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