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Cashless economy dream may turn into nightmare — secure infrastructure is the need of the hour

Aparajita Choudhury
8th Jan 2017
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The discourse about the convenience of digital payments has been in the limelight for some time now. However, the increase in the number of transactions owing to the demonetisation has raised concerns about how to secure the mechanism of transactions. Passwords and OTPs may not be sufficient to provide a secure infrastructure.

Speaking at Mobile India 2017 in Bengaluru, Ashok Chandak, Sr Director (Global sales and Marketing), NXP Semiconductors, said, “Now people have started asking questions for better experience and convenience as well as managing those security aspects. Technology alone is not enough — a secure ecosystem is very important.”

Ashok Chandak, Sr Director (Global sales and Marketing), NXP Semiconductors
Ashok Chandak, Sr Director (Global sales and Marketing), NXP Semiconductors

He also raised concerns over the transaction of money through various mobile wallets like Mobikwik, Paytm, and FreeCharge. Though every platform claims to be safe and secure, only time will tell how far can they protect themselves from malware attacks.

Even PM Modi’s recently launched digital payments app Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is claimed to be a fast and secure way for cashless transactions using mobile phones. BHIM is a simplified payment platform designed to make Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and USSD payment modes simpler and usable across feature phones and smartphones.

Mobile wallets, as of now, are considered to be safe because of the small value transactions people make. But improvising the security aspect will be conducive to the larger value transactions in the future.

Mobile wallet major Paytm is one company that never shies away from investing in new developments to make transactions easier and more secure. Last month, it announced the addition of the ‘App Password’ feature on its Android mobile app. This will enable Paytm users to set a secure pin, password, pattern, or fingerprint as a means to ensure that money stored in the Paytm wallet remains safe even if the owner’s phone is lost or misplaced.

Ashok further emphasised the potential of near-field communication (NFC) technology which is gaining momentum worldwide. Wireless communication technology NFC allows the exchange of data between devices within 4cm distance. NFC technology’s communication protocols allow even people who are not smartphone-savvy to enjoy the benefits of cashless transactions.

According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the NFC market globally is expected to reach $21.84 billion by 2020. During the forecast period, APAC is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5 percent, driven by the increasing adoption of smart appliances and rising per capita income in India and China.

The growing shipment of consumer electronics also creates an opportunity for NFC chip manufacturers. NXP Semiconductors, Broadcom Corporation, STMicroelectronics, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments are some of the major players in this space.

“It is not a new technology or new concept people are accepting. It is established and proven; the question is can it suit the India requirement as well? NFC is critical for mobile payments. Apple Pay has already been implemented in 13 countries and there is a speculation that it will be implemented in India soon,” said Ashok.

He believes that NFC technology as a communication interface will be mostly utilised in terms of convenience. All the credit and debit cards are moving towards becoming chip-based because of the security aspects. 2017 will see the implementation of measures towards making the digital transaction convenient and more secure.

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