Cybersecurity event looks at digital money acceptance in Asia-Pacific

Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 07:49

A Q&A session at the seventh Cybersecurity Weekend held by Kaspersky on Thursday. The virtual media conference aimed to explore the growing e-money adoption and the cyber-threats that come with it. — Photo courtesy of Kaspersky

The Asia Pacific region is the largest contributor to global payments revenues, with analysts expecting it to exceed US$1 trillion by 2022 or 2023, the seventh Cybersecurity Weekend held by Kaspersky on Thursday heard.

With the theme ‘Marking the money movement in APAC,’ the virtual media conference aimed to explore the growing e-money adoption and the cyber-threats that come with it.

Chris Connell, Kaspersky’s managing director for the Asia Pacific, said: “The surging demand for digital payments has transformed the way we transact both online and offline. Businesses are now digitising their operations to capture additional revenue through digital payments, while consumers are heavily reliant on it due to the ease and convenience it offers.

“It is clear that the demand for quick, efficient and low-cost payment experiences will encourage further innovation in this space, and we are seeing that happening with the emergence of real-time payment rails.”

The company’s research found that e-wallet and mobile banking adoption trail closely behind cash use in the region, he said.

The research into ‘Mapping a secure path for the future of digital payments in APAC’ studied users’ interactions with the available online payments in the region and examined their attitudes towards them, which hold the key to understanding the factors that will further drive or stem the adoption of this technology.

One of its key findings is that a great majority (90 per cent) of respondents have used mobile payment apps at least once in the past 12 months, confirming the fintech boom in the region. Some two in 10 started using them after the COVID pandemic broke out.

The Philippines logged the highest per cent of new e-cash adopters at 37 per cent, followed by India (23 per cent), Australia (15 per cent), Viet Nam (14 per cent), Indonesia (13 per cent), and Thailand (13 per cent).

Connell said: “Data from our fresh research showed that cash is still king, at least for now, in APAC with 70 per cent of the respondents still using physical notes for their day-to-day transactions. However, mobile payment and mobile banking applications are not far behind with 58 per cent and 52 per cent of users utilising these platforms at least once a week up to more than once a day for their finance-related tasks.

“From these solid statistics, we can infer that the pandemic has triggered more people to dip their toes into the digital economy, which may fully dethrone cash use here in the next three to five years.”

Safety and convenience triggered more users in APAC to embrace financial technologies. More than half of the respondents said they started using digital payments during the pandemic since it was safer and more convenient than face-to-face transactions.

When asked about reservations prior to using mobile banking and payment apps, first-time users admitted they had some fears like afraid of losing money online (48 per cent) and afraid of storing their financial data online (41 per cent).

Almost four in 10 also said they did not trust the security of these platforms.

Connell said: “To drive a secured digital economy forward, it is important for us to know the pain points of our users and identify the loopholes that we need to address urgently.

“It is a welcome finding that the public is aware of the risks that come with online transactions and because of this, developers and providers of mobile payment applications should now look into the cybersecurity gaps in each stage of the payment process, and implement security features or even a secure-by-design approach to fully gain the trust of future and existing digital payment adopters.”

Vitaly Kamluk, director of the global research and analysis team for APAC at Kaspersky, spoke about how targeted financial attacks look today, who are the main targets and the scale of the thefts.

“Even years after the Bangladesh bank heist incident, SWIFT, commercial banks and the rest of financial industry are carefully tracking BlueNoroff compromises and money theft of less protected banks around the globe.

“Due to a lot of attention over long time, BlueNoroff became less and less successful in its operations, which also required a lot of additional efforts for money laundering and covering its traces. This is when they started turning their heads to cryptocurrency, whose price has also skyrocketed.”

To help users securely embrace digital payment technologies, Kaspersky experts said they should not readily share private or confidential information online, especially financial information and payment details, should use their own computer and internet connection and adopt a holistic solution for security products. — VNS

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