Technology has thrived in such a way that it has managed to penetrate the most mundane parts of our lives, such as payments. From hard cash to liquid cash, payment protocols have evolved based on the very needs of society. The outbreak of Covid-19, followed by a worldwide pandemic forced us to adapt to contactless payment protocols.
This was precisely when a particular form of payment protocol gained massive popularity: QR codes. From malls and supermarkets to local groceries, QR codes have become the backbone of the retail industry over the past couple of years. A study from Juniper Research claims that 5.3 billion QR codes will be redeemed by the end of 2022! Moreover, around 1 billion mobile devices will access payment options through QR codes. Retail giants like Target have grabbed this massive opportunity to allow scanning QR codes to avail offers and link them to device-stored payment cards for instant checkout.
While the adoption rate of QR codes by retailers showed an impressive spike, consumers conveniently switched to this method of payment as well. However, this shift in consumer behaviour arises a serious question- Is QR based payment protocol really safe?
Safety Concerns With QR Codes
Although QR codes have received soaring popularity, especially in the post-pandemic world, they have their own shortcomings. Security challenges have been one of the most prominent hurdles when it comes to QR- based payments.
Hackers keep lurking behind anonymous devices, trying to find a way to break into your bank accounts through a ‘data leak’. This can very easily be done with the help of QR codes as they are incomprehensible to the untrained eyes and can easily be manipulated with or replaced. The reported scam of $14.5 million through a fraudulent QR code in Guangzhou, China was a “wakeup call” for the retail industry. Even in India, Harshita Kejriwal, the daughter of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was duped to scan a QR code, resulting in the loss of Rs. 34,000.
Cybercriminals attack the vulnerable QRs by redirecting users to phishing websites after they have scanned the QR code. Additionally, they can simply replace the QR code with a different one that redirects all payments into their personal accounts. Often, fraudulent customers display screenshots of previous payments during checkout without actually paying for their purchase. These activities tend to affect retailers by impacting their revenue, leading to losses.
The most reliable QR-code Alternative For Retailers
Although QR codes had received massive popularity among retailers and customers alike, the shortcomings attached to these codes were overpowering. QR codes came with unnecessary security challenges and frictions that lead to poor user experience among retailers. Additionally, QR codes require a strong internet connection in order to complete the checkout procedure. Users can find it really difficult to complete payments with a patchy internet connection.
Keeping all these factors in sight, using contactless payment solutions by “Data over Sound” technology seems to be the most promising alternative to QR codes. Data over Sound enables fast and highly secure transactions through ultrasonic soundwaves. Any two devices with a speaker and a microphone can successfully complete transactions through soundwaves.
Ultrasonic transaction ensures safety against malicious cyberattacks as the digital data is layered with industry-standard encryptions that are impermeable to malware attacks or phishing. Since this technology is proprietary and also add industry encryption mechanisms like AES and other important security feature like time-expiry based tokens, hackers cannot replace them for their personal benefits. Moreover, the data encoding and decoding is serverless and on the device so it is completely immune to server attacks.
“Data over Sound” also enables range-control, an advanced feature that allows businesses to manually set the range within which ultrasonic transactions can be completed. No third party apps or scanning apps are required which can lead to a poor user experience.
Retail merchants across the globe are working together to build an integrated retail ecosystem with an improved checkout experience. Due to the pandemic, major retailers also made changes like providing curbside pickups and self-checkout. In both these scenarios, they had to introduce a mechanism to authenticate the right person and facilitate payments. Many retailers again resorted to QR based checkout which is still error and fraud-prone. “Data over Sound” can perfectly fill the gap. In order to full-proof the future of their retail business, retailers need to take a step forward and embark on a journey to revolutionize their businesses with newer technologies like “Data over Sound’.
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