Protect your business from Covid-19 scams

 

 

 

 

With more people working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more business transactions are also being carried out online. Unfortunately, many of these transactions are being conducted from homes instead of offices. With fewer security measures in place, this has meant more businesses and employees are falling foul of fraudsters.  

Already, there have been hundreds of reports from businesses related to an upsurge in attempted fraud and the appearance of new scams relating to Covid-19. Businesses are losing millions due to cybercrime and other types of fraud during the pandemic. Here’s what to look out for and what steps you can take to protect your business. 

 

 

Where is your Coronavirus advice coming from? 

 

Phishing is on the increase as scammers send out mass emails claiming to be from government or medical organisations. While these emails claim to be offering advice and information on coronavirus, they are usually an attempt to obtain personal data and information.  

Typically, this is done through a request to click on a link, download an attachment or confirm login details for online servicesTheses attachments and downloads can install keyloggers or ransomware on computers allowing cybercriminals to access data and take control of your PC. 

The solution is never to respond to emails requesting personal data. Legitimate agencies won’t request such information by email. Look out for typos and grammatical errors that are also tell-tale signs that these emails are not genuine. 

 

 

Secure your communications 

 

Working from home, most employees don’t have the same security infrastructure in place as found in office networks. In addition, many cybercriminals are looking to exploit vulnerabilities in commonly used business video-conferencing applications. Zoom and Microsoft have reported that users are being messaged and asked to download malicious files through their video apps. 

To reduce the chance of being hacked, it’s important that home workers are provided with training to configure security settings on communication apps correctly, along with suitable firewall and malware software to keep cybercriminals at bay 

 

 

Invoicing scams 

 

Invoicing scams were commonplace before Covid-19, but police and fraud agencies are now warning that there has been an increasing number of cases of invoice redirection coming to light during the pandemic. This is when a business receives a fake email claiming to be from an existing supplier, notifying a change of bank details in the hope that the company will send future payments to a bank account of the scammer’s choosing. 

Again, preventing invoice redirection scams is all about staff training and putting effective protocols in place. Employees must be instructed to double-check any change in bank details over the phone before making a payment. Never reply to a suspicious email and do not click on any links. A good payment solutions provider, such as KoalaPays, will have other security mechanisms in place to prevent this type of fraud occurring.  

 

 

Fake suppliers and counterfeit goods 

 

Covid-19 has meant a huge upsurge in demand for PPE and disinfectant/cleaning products. Here, the scammers set up fake websites, sometimes imitating the sites of genuine sellers, advertising products for sale, take payments, but never deliver the goods. Alternatively, they buy in cheap, defective and counterfeit goods and sell them to customers at inflated prices.  

Firms looking for these products should research suppliers thoroughly and only deal with reputable businesses that have good customer relationships already. New companies should be fully vetted before any purchases are made.  

Another way that businesses can protect themselves against all types of fraud is to partner with a payment solutions provider that makes security a priority. KoalaPays’ platform is fully PCI-compliant and we use the latest fraud prevention technology to do everything we can to protect our clients from scammers.  

Five things businesses can expect in 2021

 

 

 

Given everything that’s happened in 2020, it’s anyone’s guess what’s coming down the line in 2021. But there are five main issues we know, that are almost certain to impact businesses across Europe next year.  

 

 

Brexit 

 

While, right now, the headlines are all about Covid-19, before the global pandemic hit, it was all Brexit. And that hasn’t gone away. On January 31st, the UK is set to leave the EU and, as yet, there is still no deal. Anything could happen between now and then, but whether it’s a no-deal or the parties come to some arrangement, there are sure to be serious ramifications for businesses both in the UK and the rest of Europe. Keep abreast of developments and begin putting contingencies in place on what you can plan for. 

 

 

Taxes 

 

As a result of Brexit – the UK leaving EU, means that the EU will lose a major contributor. The remaining 27 states will have to increase how much they pay into the central pot in order to balance the books – which means governments will have to find extra cash somewhere. Making up this shortfall could mean extra taxes on businesses. Again, we still don’t know all of the details and will have to wait and see how the EC reacts, particularly with the ramifications of the current pandemic. 

 

 

Covid-19 

 

As the second wave of Covid-19 is here, once again businesses are being locked down all over Europe. Without a doubt, there will be casualties as many go to the wall, despite governments bail out schemes to keep companies operating and employees paid.  

However, when the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, there’ll be a price to pay in terms of the debt left in its wake, along with a high probability of recession. Many businesses will be looking for handouts and funding to get back up-and-running. But, an even worse scenario could await in the early months of next year in the form of a third wave of the disease. 

 

 

Work from home is here to stay 

 

Coronavirus lockdowns saw more companies than ever implement WFH (Work From Home) policies. It’s thought that close to a third of all European worker have now worked from home at some stage during the pandemic and this is set to continue into next year.  

Many of these businesses wouldn’t have considered adopting these policies before the pandemic hitHowever, more significantly, many of these companies are seeing business benefits as a result of WFH and other flexible working policies. WFH will become the norm at many companies once the pandemic has ended.  

And, as we see those laid off during the pandemic re-entering the workforce during 2021, it will be companies that have embraced flexible working practices that will be able to cherry-pick the best of the talent out there.  

 

 

Payment technologies will do even more 

 

Voice technologies such as Alexa and Siri are changing the way consumers interact with technology and with businesses. Along with technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), data analytics, Cloud computing and the Internet of Things, the way we purchase and pay for things is evolving fast.  

To benefit, businesses must make sure they are using the latest technology and partnering with payment solutions providers that will be able to connect them to more customers in new ways. At KoalaPays, we will always push the boundaries of what can be achieved with our payment solutions, offering more value and functionality to businesses that partner with us, as well as helping you to offer more to your own customers too. Get in touch with our team if you’d like to find out more.  

Five things business owners can learn from Covid-19

 

 

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on businesses in every sector. Companies are learning the importance of being resilient, resourceful and being prepared for the unexpected. But that’s not all. Along the way, the crisis has revealed valuable insights that have led to changes and many firms asking: why didn’t we do this earlier? 

 

 

Flexible working 

 

Perhaps the biggest lesson for companies has been that working from home and other flexible working policies are good for businessFirms that, for one reason or another, were hesitant to adopt working from home practices, have had no choice but to give WFH (Work From Home) a go. Vast numbers of people are now working from home. And, as both employees and businesses see the benefits, it looks likely that many companies will be adopting flexible working practices permanently 

Clearly, by working from home, the daily commute has been eliminated and employees are enjoying a better work/life balanceIn turn, this has translated into benefits for employers in the form of a happier, more productive workforce. Companies are reporting other advantages too. Virtual meetings tend to be more structured and effective than a crowded conference room and there are considerable cost savings to be gained with no workers on site. 

 

 

Digital transformation 

 

Implementing flexible working practices such as WFH has meant that companies have also had to change the way they work. This has meant updating IT infrastructure, as well as improving work processes. All this is making businesses more streamlined and efficient. Digital technology, Cloud applications and virtual solutions are all powering this digital transformation, helping teams to collaborate, communicate and operate as usual. Services such as KoalaPays payments platform is just one example of how these new, fully digital solutions can benefit businesses. 

 

 

Contingency planning 

 

One thing everyone has learned from Covid-19 is that you can’t predict what’s round the corner. That’s why it’s so important to plan for every conceivable contingency. Despite the unexpected magnitude of the current crisis, those companies that had even generic disaster recovery and contingency plans in place will have been more resilient than those without.  

Those without such plans are now doing the same, creating dedicated ‘disaster’ teams to look at business processes and links in the supply chain, where things can go wrong and what can be done to mitigate risks in the event of a crisis. Again, digitalisation is key here. The more business processes are outsourced to the Cloud, the more they will be protected.  

 

 

Proactive planning for the future 

 

While disaster recovery and contingency planning is essential to safeguard against the unknown, business planning for what you can see is just as important. Things are unlikely to be the same ever again for businesses – in every sector – so it’s important to look ahead to spot opportunities and challenges that might be coming down the line for your business. Flexibility is key here 

Get your team together for a meeting to review the changes implemented as a result of the pandemic. Question what’s working and what isn’t. Then discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead. How can you prepare for them? Let everyone have a say. You might be surprised by some of the ideas and solutions you discover. 

 

 

Greater co-operation 

 

Tackling Covid-19 has meant everyone working together, from governments and state bodies to businesses and their customers. Beating the challenges to come in the wake of the pandemic will depend on the same co-operation. Solutions happen when people work together, whether that’s a business and its staff, partners and customers, or even collaborations with competing firms.  

Rather than sticking to tried and tested ways of doing business that have worked up until now, business owners must look at the new paradigm created by Covid-19 and proactively develop new strategies that will help their business not only survive, but thrive in the era that is to come 

What’s next for the payments industry?

 

 

2020 has been a tumultuous time for businesses in every sector, but one of the legacies of the Covid-19 crisis has been a huge reduction in cash transactions and a big upsurge of making use of alternative payment methods, such as the use of online payment platforms. This trend is set to continue as businesses and customers see the benefits of making payments online. But, what other developments can we expect to see in payments industry in 2021 and beyond? 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence comes of age 

 

The acronym on everyone’s lips at the moment is AI or Artificial Intelligence. The effect of AI is being felt across every industry sector, but in the world of online payments it has the potential to vastly improve payments ecosystems for banks, payment processors, businesses and their customers.  

The technology is already being rolled out in the form of chatbots, Smart assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, and new applications are in the pipeline. In terms of the payments industry, AI has the potential to greatly enhance the user experience (UX), reduce fraud, create new ways for businesses to interact with customers and personalise payment processes. Along the way, we can expect to see new, more efficient ways of carrying out transactions 

Beyond this, with digital payments set to reach record numbers in 2021, AI and Machine Learning will play a pivotal role in monitoring and analysing all these transactions, offering real insights for businesses in every sector. Which bring us on nicely to the next trend for the online payments industry – data. 

Monetising data 

 

Information has always been vital for companies in order to gain insights and make informed business decisions. Right now, there’s more data out there than ever before – far too much for humans to process. Which is where AI and ML come in. Artificial Technology has the power to collect, move, analyse and transform millions of pieces of data in seconds.  

Two important areas that will benefit are security and authorisation. AI can convert this data into solid advice on why transactions don’t go through and deliver technical tweaks that can eliminate obstacles in the authorisation process and lower costs. 

Look out for new tools coming from KoalaPays that can help you make better, more informed decisions when it comes to your business strategy.  

 

 

The power of the digital wallet 

 

The use of digital wallets (or e-wallets) and mobile payments is rising exponentially, overtaking traditional payment methods. Here, at KoalaPays we already offer these services to our customers, as this area is expected to become a major industry player in the coming years. 

This is because digital wallets have the ability to store additional information such as loyalty cards, or driving licence details, as well as offer increased transparency and security when it comes to monitoring transactions. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) makes it almost impossible for cyber-criminals to access accounts. And because e-wallet can only be used at specific retailers, they’re not subject to interchange fees imposed by payment networks. 

For businesses, digital wallets are a valuable source of information that can be used to tailor and segment your marketing efforts for greater returns. 

 

 

Cracking security 

 

For all this to happen, consumers need to know that online payments are secure. After all, they are the ones who are driving changes in the sector.  

Online payments have already become one of the most secure ways to pay and accept payments. However, new technological developments such as advanced encryption, biometric authentication, e-wallets and AI/ML will provide solutions that give customers the peace of mind to buy with complete confidence. Once they have that, they’ll make purchase decisions more quickly and buy more often.  

Mobile payments 

 

Mobile payments are becoming big business, but we’re only at the start of the curve. Thanks to API and Open Banking, 2021 could be the year that mobile payments go mainstream. And talking of Open Banking, 2021 will also be the year that banks and the FinTechs create solid partnerships that see them combine their individual strengths to deliver better services than ever for customers and businesses alike.  

While cash and payment cards are here to stay for the foreseeable future, online payments are set to become one of the most common ways customers purchase goods and services. Digitisation and moving to an online payment service provider will be invaluable for businesses who want to win new customers and gain new tools for frictionless payments and better business processes. 

 

Top trends disrupting the online payments industry

 

 

With the arrival of the FinTech, the online payments industry has changed massively over the past decade. This has meant huge digital disruption within the banking and payments industries. The global online payments industry now accounts for a greater percentage of all banking revenues and that percentage is increasing by around 7% year-on-year. Here, we examine the key drivers powering this growth and what can we expect to see in the future. 

Banks want a piece of the pie 

By mostly relying on older slow and costly payment mechanisms, banks have been slow to react in the growing online payments industry. It’s only now, as they lose market share, that these old giants are sitting up and taking notice. 

Although late to the party, we can expect these traditional financial establishments to start investing in online payment technology to try to win back customers. That won’t be easy. Many of the Payment Service Providers (PSPs) are securing banking licences, so this means they will be able to offer the very same banking services themselves (most likely at lower fees), meaning the ‘real’ banks will have to work harder to retake market share. Remaining profitable certainly won’t be easy for those with branches in high street locations.  

Furthermore, it won’t be straightforward for these institutions to integrate new technologies into their antiquated systems. One solution may be for these long-established institutions to ingest some of the newer players in order to remain relevant themselves. Buying a smaller company with the infrastructure already in place may be one solution, but, some of the bigger players won’t be consigned to history without a fight. 

Specialisation vs Consolidation 

Which brings us along to the next trend. With so many new entrants, the online payments landscape is becoming increasingly crowded. To stand out firms need to differentiate, or specialise. It’s likely that we’ll see companies focusing on different markets, or a particular customer base, such as customers in the gig economy, or SMEs. 

An alternative to this is that we’ll see consolidation. Revenue per transaction has been falling. To remain competitive, companies have to focus on volume. As the market stabilises, it’s likely we’ll see many firms joining forces.  

New technologies will be driven by consumer demand 

The online payments revolution is not quite complete yet. The technology is still evolving so it’s difficult to predict what will happen next. To a large extent this will be driven by customer expectation and demand. The ways customers buy and the technology they adopt will guide online payment providers when it comes to their own offerings. Right now, for instance, it’s mobile usage that is driving innovation within the industry, but voice shopping looks to be the next big thing. 

Moving past two-stage authorisation 

Security is another area where we will see disruption. However, it’s crucially important that the technology here remains as frictionless as possible in order not to become a barrier to impulse purchases. As it stands, biometric authorisation requires second step authorisation, so this isn’t ideal. One answer here could be the use of ultrasonic authorisation. This has been proven to avoid compatibility issues, as already demonstrated in Denmark where older vending machines have been re-equipped to enable them to accept payments from an approaching customer with a mobile app.  

Will digital wallets replace credit cards? 

Credit card firms will come under pressure as digital wallet momentum continues in 2020. This has already happened in China with Alipay, which grew out of the Alibaba marketplace. The platform now has one billion users. More high profile examples are appearing around the world, such as Uber, WeChat pay, WhatsApp Pay and HSBC’s PayMe in Hong Kong. 

Cross-border payments will grow 

What this all points to is that payments are becoming more invisible and, as a result, customers and businesses alike are benefiting form a more frictionless, seamless experience. This trend will inevitably continue as companies realise that making it easy for their customers to buy from them wherever they are in the world – in multiple currencies – will mean they do more business in return.  

This is something we’re already seeing at KoalaPays. Our digital wallets are making these overseas transactions just as simple as local transactions. Customers with our online business accounts are seeing the benefits in the bottom line. And we’re committed to developing our services further to make online payments faster and more convenient throughout the world. 

Online payments are coming of age. They’re becoming more efficient and more functional for users, as well as businesses. Here, at KoalaPays, we will continue to strive to stay at the forefront of the technology to make sure our customers see all the benefits now and in the future. 

How Covid-19 is shaping the online payments industry

 

 

Covid-19 is impacting every area of society and commerce. We’re changing the way we work, spend, and do business. Every industry is being affected. Crucially, some of the changes made now will remain long after the pandemic has ended. The online payments industry is one sector where the impact is being felt more than others.

 

Less cash is more

Already, we’re seeing less use of cash for financial transactions and the greater adoption of digital technologies for even the smallest payments. Across Europe, countries are increasing the amount allowed for contactless payments. Without doubt, this habit is one that will continue after the current crisis ends. Even before the pandemic, the frequency of digital payments was rising year-on-year, as cash payments fell. More payments than ever are made using cards, contactless technology, smartphones and other devices.

Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of these transactions – not just because people are staying at home (although this is another factor we’ll look at in the next section), but because it’s a safer form of payment requiring less physical interaction and less risk of contagion.

 

Digital checkout sales are growing

One of the main reasons cash use has halved in the UK is as a result of the lockdown. Many retailers have locked their doors, but many too have begun selling exclusively online – some, for the first time. Online payments and e-transactions are surging as more people shop online for essentials that they previously bought in physical stores.

All this is happening despite a complete fall off in hotel and flight bookings, most of which are, today, purchased via online transactions. When travel does begin again, this will be an added stream of online payments. Meanwhile, most refunds for cancelled bookings will have to be made online.

State authorities are helping by actively encouraging online shopping. In turn, this is giving a welcome boost to the Internet of Things (IoT). The more people use these technologies, the more they’re likely to keep the habit, especially when it comes to essentials such as groceries. After all, online payments are even safer than contactless payments; they don’t require touchpoints.

 

Online payments are becoming more versatile

The way online payments are made is evolving faster because of the pandemic. As customers are more willing to use new online payment systems, traditional banking transactions and recurring card payments are being replaced by solutions that offer more versatility to customers and businesses alike. These new payment systems come with added tools for greater control over functionality and service offerings, as well as offering useful dashboard and reporting features for businesses.

 

More security, less fraud

Unfortunately, crises such as Covid-19 create opportunities for criminals. Online payment systems are already much more secure than physical payments and that security is improving all the time. New technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning can make a big difference to identifying potential fraud and preventing it before it happens. As a result of the pandemic, these new solutions are already being fast-tracked to make online payment systems safer and more attractive to customers and businesses.

 

Customer behaviour will drive the online payment industry

Ultimately, it will be the customer that will drive the growth of online payment sector. As businesses see customers making more online payments, the best will want to make those payments as easy as possible for customers. Traditional payment providers will have to fast track their own efforts to keep up.

Astute business owners and entrepreneurs know that the technology is already there with the likes of KoalaPays. Those that integrate those solutions into their payment systems will benefit most, now and in the years to come.

All of these developments in the online payment industry are making it easier to buy, sell and do business. And because of the increased uptake, companies are realising the benefits in terms of quicker transactions, lower fees, greater security and more flexible collection options.

The pandemic has inevitably meant a huge rise in online and digital payments, but this is not a temporary thing. This is one that is set to continue well into the future. Businesses that do not adapt, evolve and invest in digital payment solutions will be left behind. Those that do, will thrive. After all, it will be online payment industry and the technology behind it that will drive the recovery in the aftermath of this pandemic.

Cash is no longer king. Online payments are here to stay.

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