The Perception Game: A Non-Security Glitch Makes Consumers Worried About Security

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Mobile payments are still young enough that consumers are still making up their hands with how safe and secure they are. Remember that this is a classic perception vs. reality situation. It doesn’t matter that mobile payments are in reality far more secure than many credit cards today. Think about a non-EMV Visa credit using signature compared with Apple Pay’s biometric authentication and secure element and we’re talking Bambi Vs. Godzilla. But anything new and different feels less secure.

Another important factor in the security perception game, though, is robustness and uptime. If the experience feels solid and trustworthy, those attributes will also color the perception of security. And that’s why this past week is troubling.

It started with PayPal’s Venmo admitting to processing glitches during the SuperBowl, which were attributed by social media—reasonably enough—to P2P transactions settling bets galore. Then there was Apple Pay’s multi-hour outage when it couldn’t add Visa payment cards. Then I visited a Starbucks this week and baristas said that multiple customers couldn’t load money into the Starbucks app.

Nothing in technology is ever perfect and none of these disruptions lasted long. And, critically, the problems prevented transactions, which is a lot better than getting transactions wrong or triple-billing customers.

That being true, silly glitches like these—especially when they happen in calendar proximity and get lots of social media attention—are not doing the mobile payments community any favors.

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