Merchant’s Handbook to Protect Payments During COVID-19 Crisis

May 20, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives, the economic impact becomes even more significant. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are seeing a drastic increase in online payments and transactions as consumers’ shopping and payment patterns are altered. This sudden spike is changing how smaller merchants accept payments and consequently increasing challenges for both merchants and payment processors.

Understanding the Risk Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

With rapid changes in the payments sectors, cybercriminals are striking and are posing to be a major threat. Here are some shocking facts uncovered by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) website:

  • 475% increase in malicious reports related to COVID-19 in March.
  • 41% of small businesses being targeted by a breach, which costs them more than $50,000 to recover. Not only are funds lost, but so are customers; 29% of consumers surveyed by PCI-DSS, said they would never again use a small business that suffered a data breach.

As experts working with various merchant platforms, we have identified a few ways through which merchants can protect their businesses from fraud, data breaches to ensure payment processing is secure.

Safeguarding Your Business & Data

Service Reliability

Consumers today are more anxious about security while using various merchants for payment processing. Platforms which are compliant and capable of supporting the heavy volume of payment requests can score high with consumers on the reliability aspect.

Businesses should avoid implementing new initiatives that are unnecessary changes or non-critical maintenance is also essential. The key is to win customer trust at all times by offering them secure platforms.

Source: Adobe Stock

Securing Payments

Financial institutions and retailers must prepare to constantly adjust fraud controls against changing consumer behavior. In a recent survey, TransUnion found 22% of USA adults have been targeted by digital fraud related to the COVID-19.

Additionally, a new report from Atlas VPN states that the number of active phishing sites skyrocketed from 149,000 in January to more than 500,000 in March.

Merchants need to keep a close eye on their transaction patterns, as fraud can reveal itself in many ways. Apart from phishing, cybercriminals usually look for outdated software to exploit flaws in unpatched systems. The timely installation of security patches or system migration to secure platforms is highly recommended to minimize the risk of being attacked.

secure payment concept
Source: Adobe Stock

Data Breach & Protection

The best way to protect against data breaches is to avoid storing any card data completely. Use of strong encryptions makes card data unreadable during payments which also can be used to protect stored data and data transmitted over a network. Ensure you have a payment terminal encryption with a point-to-point encryption solution.

data breach
Source: Adobe Stock

Preparing for Future

Although there is uncertainty over this pandemic, businesses can still act proactively to implement robust measures. Consumers have started to think differently about shopping. Many of them will continue to do more online or through click-and-collect. Merchants must improve their long-term ability to service this digital demand and create great online payments experience. Additional support for the preferred payment methods used by consumers will go a long way in this regard.

woman stacking wooden squares
Source: Adobe Stock