Your Friday fix for global fintech and payments news
The ramifications of COVID-19 continue to affect the payments industry. This week, we take a look at the growing shift towards digital and contactless payments, payment networks doing their bit by increasing the issuance of contactless cards, and a slightly more disconcerting trend - cybercriminals profiting from COVID-19.
Our weekly round-up brings you a dose of some of the biggest news announcements from the past seven days so you can keep an eye on all that’s shaping our world this week.
- FCA says coronavirus will accelerate shift to digital
- UnionPay to increase contactless payment card issuance
- COVID-19 outbreak is perfect storm for cybercriminals
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has projected that one of the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the acceleration of digitalisation within financial services. The FCA’s Business Plan for 2020/21 reports that: “We have seen greater digitalisation of the firms we regulate, and we can expect the social changes driven by Coronavirus to accelerate the development of digital markets.” The FCA also made sure to address the potential implications this could have on the unbanked, or rather, ‘digitally disenfranchised’ populations.
Outlining its intentions in detail, the FCA has made a commitment to ensuring that those a step behind digitally have access to financial services. The FCA plans to tackle scams that are developing as fraudsters attempt to profit from the virus; to ensure that firms give clear support to their consumers and to mitigate firm failures wherever they occur during the current challenging circumstances. FCA Interim Chief Executive, Chris Wollard, said that: “In a matter of weeks, Coronavirus has altered the UK’s financial landscape dramatically … it is more important than ever that the FCA leads the way on the protection of consumers, firms and the markets.”
UnionPay International will accelerate the issuance of contactless payment cards on a global scale this week, as a result of COVID-19 prompting a surge in demand for contactless payments. UnionPay has partnered with Kazakhstan’s Halyk Savings Bank to supply more than 100,000 contactless cards, as well as banks in Russia and Mongolia. As part of the project, UnionPay has outlined its intention to increase the number of merchants accepting online payments.
In addition to this, UnionPay and WeDoctor have teamed up to launch WeDoctor Global Consultation and Prevention Centre, which allows cardholders access to more than 7,800 medical professionals for health consultation and psychological assistance.
In a recent blog post by Payments Cards and Mobile, Alex Rolfe identifies one of the glaring issues that a lot of companies are facing – the challenge of adequate security provision. In response to COVID-19, hackers, fraudsters and scammers have been exploiting the opportunity as a route through which to conduct a variety of attacks on personal data, targeting those who are particularly vulnerable in these uncertain times. In January, coronavirus phishing scams began to develop, preying on fear and confusion around the virus. Last week, a major COVID-19 testing hub in the Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic suffered a ransomware attack that disrupted operations and caused surgery postponements.
With so many of the global workforce working from home, the world over is experiencing greater risks than ever in terms of security.