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Mobile Payments Increase Fraud Costs for Merchants

Payza Online Mobile Payments

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Merchants who accept both mobile payments and conventional payments end up paying more for fraud than merchants who only accept conventional payments according to the 2012 LexisNexis “True Cost of Fraud” study, conducted by California-based Javelin Strategy & Research.

Javelin and LexisNexis compiled their data by surveying over 1000 fraud-control executives across a wide range of companies of various sizes and industry segments.

Mobile payments are still a relatively new way to pay for products and services, and only a small volume of transactions are done though mobile means. However, 6% of the merchants surveyed this year already accept mobile payments, up from the 4% who accepted mobile payments in 2011 according to the merchant data collected by LexisNexis. That’s a 50% increase in the percentage of merchants who now accept this new form of payment. Furthermore, this year’s number represents a 500% increase from the 1% of merchants that reported accepting mobile payments in 2010! The trend is clear, more and more merchants are adopting mobile payments every year.

But more payment options for customers can translate into a higher risk of fraud for merchants. For example, the study shows that mobile-accepting merchants suffered a true loss of $2.83 for every dollar of fraud in 2012; that is 40% higher than the $2.00 true cost for every dollar of fraud in 2011. Also, all merchants (not just mobile-accepting), experienced an average loss of $2.70 for every dollar of fraud in 2012; this is up from $2.30 for every dollar in 2011. Each incident of fraud is becoming more costly for merchants of all types, but especially for those that accept mobile payments.

Although mobile-accepting merchants have to deal with several different types of fraud, “friendly fraud” appears to be at the forefront.  So-called “friendly” fraud can occur when a person makes a payment for a product, gets what they pay for, but contacts their credit card issuer for a chargeback anyway. According to the study, 26% of fraud committed against mobile-accepting merchants is friendly fraud, compared to the 20% friendly fraud rate for non-mobile merchants. Some fraudsters are shifting more attention to merchants that use a wider variety of payment methods, including mobile browser payments, text (SMS), bill-to-mobile phone and contactless mobile payments. The more options that a merchant offers, the more types of fraud that can be committed through the options they support.

One reason mobile fraud is becoming popular is what Jim Van Dyke of Javelin refers to as the “complexity factor”. When merchants open more payment channels, verifying a client’s identity becomes increasingly difficult. This means merchants have to be more vigilant and put stricter anti-fraud measures into place in order to prevent fraud. That translates into more work for merchants, but not all retailers see the value in this extra effort. According to the report, only 2% of all merchants admitted to being concerned about mobile security.

Clearly, merchants need to be more proactive where mobile payments and fraud are concerned. Although the availability of various payment options may invite more customers, and hence more sales, merchants need to be aware of the risks of accepting new payment methods and be proactive in their fraud mitigation efforts. In other words, they need to start being concerned about mobile security and the increasing risk of fraud targeting mobile-accepting merchants.

For more information, you can find the LexisNexis 2012 True Cost of Fraud Report here (available for download). You can also read the LexisNexis press release for a brief breakdown of their findings.