Virtual currencies and digital payments

How much do you really know about digital currencies?

In a report commissioned by HP, the Ponemon Institute has made a number of interesting finds. Its “Security & Compliance Trends in Innovative Electronic Payments” paper reveals that support for digital currencies and new electronic payment systems are perhaps stronger than originally thought.

Need a primer on digital payments? Watch this very informative video from e-commerce platform PinnacleCart.

Understanding the future of money and mobile payments

New electronic payment systems and virtual currencies are expected to make paper currency the horse and buggy of the 21st century. Are organisations up to the challenge of ensuring security and privacy when businesses and consumers use these payment systems for purchasing items and transferring of funds?

And while 79 per cent of the US organisations that took part in the research plan to adopt digital currencies, a key barrier to the adoption of innovative electronic payments remains. Namely: the issue of security. In terms of new electronic payments, all of the following were cited in respondent’s answers as either currently supported in marketplaces or the not too distant future: payments with a mobile device or use of phone number, e-currency (Bitcoin or other open source P2P money), stored value cards, and bar codes.

The biggest concern seems to be authentication risks with the use of virtual currencies. While new payment models are evolving, but the same security fundamentals for maximum protection in the overall payment process are still needed. The most critical are one-time passwords or tokens, federated identity and authentication systems and multi-factor authentication

There is also the perception that the pressure to quickly migrate to the use of innovative electronic payments is making it difficult to address the security and privacy issues.

A case-in-point: Digital wallets (or e-wallets) are used to hold virtual currency – and high profile names in technology like Google and Apple already have solutions in place to drive the adaption rate. In-fact belief is so strong that almost half (46 per cent) of respondents predict that virtual currencies will overtake paper currencies within the next five years. Perhaps there’s some truth in this… we are increasingly looking to financial institutions and credit card companies to make the inroads needed to take such practices to the next level. They’ll be the ones to create new approaches to the security and privacy of the electronic payment platform. These organisations are closer to the consumer experience with electronic payment systems and might have a greater incentive to innovate and improve both security and privacy.

What do you make of these new virtual payment systems: is more time needed to fully realise the benefits (and drawbacks) of such innovations?