Posts by Joe Weppler

Creating Your Business Continuity Plan

In our increasingly tech-driven world, connectivity is paramount. If a natural disaster were to cut power and wireline services to your building, would your business be able to continue operations, or would you need to shut down?  Here are some tips to help you create a plan that ensures you have the resources needed for business and revenue continuity in the face of a natural disaster.

Analyzing Critical Elements

The first and most important step to creating a working Business Continuity Plan is identifying the processes that are imperative to your company’s continued operation. You need to know what your critical processes are, what possible alternatives could take their place in the event of a disaster, and, failing an appropriate alternative, how long your business can operate without them.

These dependencies should be properly outlined and labeled, and they need to be ranked by the urgency of their restoration. Once you know exactly what you need to operate your business, you can begin putting processes in place to act as backups in times of crisis.

At this point, a Business Impact Analysis will help you measure the impact that downtime will have on your business, the cost of that downtime, and the legal and/or compliance issues regarding keeping your data secure.

Establish step-by-step recovery plans

A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) should be included in your Business Continuity Plan as a set of procedures that reduce downtime and focus on the most effective route to recover your critical information. One of the most important facets of your DRP is properly defining your recovery points. By aligning your backups with your business needs, you can make sure that your DRP prioritizes the data that is critical to your business functions in order to get you back on your feet that much quicker.

Disaster Recovery Plans take into account two major steps for tracking your downtime in the event of a disaster. Your Recovery Time Objective is the desired amount of time after a disaster occurs that full data restoration is achieved. Obviously, the quicker the better. The Maximum Tolerable Downtime represents the maximum amount of time that your critical information and services can remain unavailable before you begin to lose business or irreversible damage is done.

Update and Test Frequently

Without regular testing and constant updates, a business continuity plan can become outdated and leave you completely unprotected when you need it most. If you’ve taken the time to analyze the critical elements of your business, you need to keep your business continuity plan in mind when making any changes to those elements.

Say you upgrade your client databases to account for your company’s growth, but you forget that your data backup system is still configured with your old database in mind. In the event of an emergency that results in data loss, your upgraded system results in that data becoming unrecoverable.

With frequent updates and testing, you make sure that your business continuity plan stays current, relevant, and effective.

Keep an Eye on the Outside

You’ve identified your critical elements, you’ve set your downtime targets and established recovery plans and redundancies to meet them, and you’ve tested, updated and re-tested your process. Now you need to take note of the things that are beyond your control.

Inoperable e-commerce platforms, outside data-networks, 1-800 service failures, provider downtime – by understanding exactly what can grind your business to a halt, you can prepare alternatives to keep you afloat. No business is immune to problems, but by being well-prepared, you can help mitigate the damage caused by worst-case scenarios.

Paper Waste Stats to Make You Think Twice

The average U.S. office worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper per year. If that number alone seems like a lot, keep in mind that means we’re talking in the realm of just over 12 trillion (12,000,000,000,000) sheets of paper used in U.S. offices every single year.

Nearly 50 percent of that paper will end up in the trash. On average, 70 percent of the waste that most companies produce consists of paper. Let’s take a look at some more paper waste stats to better understand the issue.

Waste Not, Want Not

A lot of things are created with very little waste. Paper is not one of them. Now before you print out this blog to share with your coworkers, keep this in mind: Paper manufacturing is an incredibly wasteful process that necessitates a huge amount of resources.

According to Environment Canada, the production of one kilogram of paper requires 324 litres of water.  The paper industry is the 3rd largest user of fossil fuels on the planet. Over 40 percent of industrial logging goes directly towards paper production. Humanity’s demand for paper is one of the most direct causes of deforestation across the planet.

With the massive amount of resources required to create paper, it’s shocking to consider that, according to research, 30 percent of print jobs are never even picked up from the printer, and 45 percent end up in the trash by the end of the day.

We Don’t Have the Space

According to the US EPA, the material most frequently encountered in MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) landfills is paper. Paper waste accounts for more than 40 percent of a landfill’s contents. Despite the worlds continued embrace of digital media, newspapers alone can take up as much as 13 percent of the space in US landfills.

Biodegradable only goes so far in a landfill environment. Paper is much more resistant to deterioration when compacted in a landfill than when it’s in open contact with the atmosphere. In fact, a study by the Garbage Project showed that, when excavated from a MSW landfill, newspapers from the 1960s can be found intact and completely readable.

The “Junk” in “Junk Mail”

Humanity has devised a pretty silly pipeline for junk mail flyers. The flyers get printed on paper, they get put into your mailbox, then you take them and put them in the trash. Talk about efficiency.

Think about how often you actually hold on to a flyer you get in the mail. Now consider that four million tons of junk mail are delivered to landfills each year. According to the EPA, that’s more than 50 percent of the junk mail that gets made.

Junk mail aside, think about your bills – water, electricity, cable, phone, etc. Most of these are tossed in the same trash pile as your junk mail. Perhaps with even more vigor.

What Can Be Done?

Going 100 percent paperless isn’t plausible for every business. But it’s estimated that 50 percent of office waste that goes to landfills is recyclable.

Experts predict that, if digital document management systems were widely used, it would save around 1.4 trillion pounds of paper.

On a personal level, you can save huge amounts of paper with just a little mindfulness. You rarely use a phone book, but most cities continue to print them. If you and 499 of your closest neighbours recycle them instead of throwing them in the trash, you’ve just saved approximately 30 trees.

Go paperless with your bills. Opt-out of junk mail by calling the toll-free number listed on the ad. Think twice before you print something that you’re just going to mark-up and then throw in the trash. Sign up for online magazines and ditch the print versions. Use electronic storage and scan your receipts, instructions and forms. Perhaps one of the biggest things you can do is buy recycled items! Make sure you’re checking the packages of your books, notebooks, cards and household papers for the phrase “Made from Recycled Materials.”

Shipping Breeds Brand Loyalty

Shipping is more than just a necessary cost. In fact, when purchasing a product, the ease of delivery is right up there with the price when it comes to what is most impactful on a consumer’s decision to buy. No matter how many things go right, if the shipping experience goes wrong, you’ve likely lost yourself any repeat business from that customer.

Here are some tips to help you get your small package shipping right, the first time and every time thereafter.

 

Keep your customers in the know with package tracking

Consumers appreciate being in control, but when a sale hits the shipping phase, things become decidedly out of their control. That is why giving them the ability to track their packages is so important to their overall experience.

If your customer can log on and see where their packages are, it brings them peace of mind and allows them to better anticipate delays. Some companies like to offer a simple tracking number and portal combination, while others prefer to send the customer emails directly updating them on the whereabouts of their package.

Partnering with a courier that communicates with your customers frequently can be the difference between a happy and loyal customer and a disgruntled one-time shopper.

Keep your prices reasonable by offering the right services

Say what you will about Amazon, but it’s impossible to argue with the effect they’ve had on the supply chain. Today, customers want fast and free. Most companies can’t afford that like Amazon can – so how do they compete?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Expedited shipping is expensive, and unless your business is doing extremely well, you likely can’t afford to eat those costs. That means passing them on to the customer. And the customer doesn’t want to pay them any more than you do.

Weight, dimensions, destination, volume, speed – all these things affect the price of shipping. The most cost-effective solution if you ship multiple different products is to make sure you’re offering the right service for the request. While flat rates are convenient, they’re not flexible.

Choice is important. Give your customers the choice between fast or cheap. Don’t offer overnight shipping on products that people don’t urgently need. You’re only increasing your processing costs in the long run.

Be accurate, predictable, and accountable

Consumers hate surprises. They want to be in the loop every step of the way. They want to decide what is going to happen and see it go their way. And they should – after all, they’re paying for it.

The best way to avoid surprises is to have an accurate and effective way to keep track of your inventory. There is nothing worse than not being able to fulfill a customer’s order after the fact because your inventory wasn’t tracked properly. It is absolutely vital that you know exactly what you have, how much you have of it, and how fast it’s going out the door. And it’s equally as vital that you communicate that information to your customers accurately. One thing is for sure: a customer will always prefer to see an out-of-stock sign before they’ve paid opposed to after.

There are tons of factors that go into shipping – from return policies and processes to e-shop tools and packaging practices.

Fortunately, they’re all sides of the same coin. If you can keep your customers informed, offer reasonable pricing, and keep an accurate account of everything you’re sending out, the rest will begin to fall in to place.

Sprint, Verizon, AT&T waive fees for those in path of hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 3 major storm and is still gathering strength as it moves toward Florida, where it could make landfall as soon as late Monday as a Category 4 hurricane.

All of Florida has been placed under a state of emergency and authorities are urging residents to stockpile a week’s worth of food and supplies, with the governor warning that the storm could be a “multi-day” event.
 
As a safety precaution, some of the major telecom providers in the United States have announced that they are waiving fees for those in the path of Hurricane Dorian
 
 
Verizon announced they are offering unlimited call/text/data for customers in Dorian’s path. https://twitter.com/VerizonNews/status/1167506290626760704 https://www.verizon.com/about/news/hurricane-dorian-way-and-verizon-ready
 
AT&T announced they are waiving data overages in affected areas of Florida from 9/2 until 9/8. https://about.att.com/pages/disaster_relief/storm_dorian.html
 
Sprint announced that they are waiving call, text, and data overage fees for customers in the U.S. Virgin Islands effective August 28 through September 4. https://newsroom.sprint.com/updates-on-dorian.htm?linkId=72887125
 

Mobile Payments and Generation Z

The payments landscape has been evolving at a rapid clip over the past decade, thanks in part to massive demand for electronic payments and a quickly growing base of consumers who would rather pay for their goods with anything but cash.

That trend won’t stop anytime soon. In fact, by 2020, 40 percent of U.S. consumers will be made up of Gen Z. This demographic doesn’t remember the world before the internet, Amazon, and apps. They accept nothing less than digital, and they won’t be constrained by anything they can’t carry in their pocket.

When it comes to the demand for efficiency, efficacy, and immediacy, Gen Z is a tidal wave that will wash away any institution not willing to adapt. And the first place to undertake that adaptation? Mobile payments. Take a look below at some of the growing trends of the mobile payments industry – which is projected to become the second most common payment method after debit cards by 2022. 

Mobile Point of Sale

Imagine a store with no checkout, replaced by sales staff carrying mobile-point-of-sale (mPOS) devices. While not so viable in places where you’re buying a large volume of items such as a grocery store, stores that sell at lower volume and higher cost could benefit greatly. Your staff member is right there with the customer, answering their questions and pointing them in the right direction. When they make a choice, the sale is conducted right then and there and the customer gets to walk out the door with their purchase immediately.

These same devices can be taken out of the brick-and-mortar location as well and used at trades shows, festivals and food trucks. An mPOS can go anywhere your customer does, and accept payments from phones, watches and credit cards.

Social Commerce

People are on their phones constantly. Whether you think that’s good or bad, it’s incredibly important to take it into account when considering how you accept payments. Anyone who has spent any amount of time learning about online purchasing knows that the checkout cart is where most sales die. In fact, every redirection, click and new page that a customer experiences from the moment they decide they want an item to the moment they click “Confirm Purchase” is another hurdle to the final sale.

What if your customer could purchase directly through your Facebook or Instagram page without ever needing to redirect to your website? 60 percent of Instagram users claim they find new products they want to purchase on the app. The more streamlined your payment process is, the more impulse buys you’ll get.

Retail, Wholesale, and Automation

Over the next few years, retail and wholesale are expected to grow into interactive, highly-automated systems. Let’s make two assumptions.

First, payments and service development will continue to be customer-driven and focused on efficiency. Second, that these customer-driven systems will continue to innovate and change, embrace new technologies, and develop extremely tailored solutions for vertical markets.

Mobile payment solutions embrace this automation, and go hand-in-hand with the dream of worker-less stores. From epiphany to delivery, the entire sales process runs through your phone, no matter where you are. This leads to lower overhead and a faster sales process. And if Gen Z wants anything, it’s speed.

Biometrics

The old spy-novel standby is the trusty fingerprint scanner, but biometrics have evolved. Face recognition, iris and hand scans, DNA tests and voice recognition – they’re all real, and rapidly overtaking traditional methods like PINs and passwords when it comes to identification and authentication.

Fraudsters never stop innovating, and mobile payments must continue to combat them at every turn. Biometrics are a more reliable way for merchants to verify the identity of their customers in order to prevent scams.

When it comes to security, your phones built-in biometric security means that not only are mobile payments fast and efficient – they’re also very safe.

Billing Errors Aren’t Going Anywhere

According to Canada’s telecom and TV services ombudsman in April, incorrect billing charges accounted for 16.5 percent of all issues raised in 9,831 complaints to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services over a six-month period. In fact, billing errors were the top issue for almost every type of service.

 

The second most common sore point? Misleading and undisclosed contract terms. Overall, complaints increased by 68 percent from last year’s mid-year report.

 

Studies have shown over 80 percent of telecommunications bills contain errors. Clerical errors, tax errors, contract discrepancies, double-metering… there are plenty of different ways you can incur billing errors – and you can bet they won’t be fixed unless you notice them and make a point of it.

 

Most professionals simply don’t have the time to do a thorough audit of their telecom bills. Instead, they employ the weigh it and pay it method – if the number is similar to the one from the previous year, they sign off. But what happens when that number has been wrong from the beginning? Or you’re just so busy you don’t notice a change? Here are a few of the most common errors to look for on your bill:

 

Charges for services you’ve never had:

 

It’s not uncommon to be billed for services you’ve never used. Maybe you’re paying for extra lines or voicemails when you don’t have enough phones to use them. Maybe it’s cloud services, call filtering or ring-back tones. Maybe you have an older plan that is charging you extra for North American roaming, despite calling in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico being included in your regular service package. While usually not hyper-expensive on their own, these services are billed every single month, which can add up quick!

 

Charges for services you used to have:

 

Being billed for disconnected services is another common source of billing errors. You’d think cancelling a service is a fairly cut-and-dry process, especially when you’re provided with a stop-billing date. Unfortunately, according to studies, at least 25 percent of cancelled orders continue to bill the client after the stop-billing date.

 

Incorrect rates:

 

Do you sometimes wonder why billing errors almost always go in favour of the provider as opposed to the client? While we might like to think the big bad telcos intend to take our money without providing the services we need, it’s not so simple. In reality, there are plenty of billing errors in favour of the client – but the providers are extremely vigilant when it comes to watching their profitability and correcting their mistakes. Unfortunately for us, they aren’t watching our bottom lines, so errors in their favour rarely get noticed. These errors usually go hand in hand with contract renewals and the installation of new services. It’s often a simple case of an error in the entry of your new rates.



There are tons of other places you might find billing errors – services not under contract, usage in excess of your plan, obsolete and outdated services, multi-account billing by the same vendor… the list goes on. Keeping an eye on your bills to make sure you’re paying the right price and getting proper credits for billing errors can feel like a full-time job, but it needs to be done if you’re hoping to maximize your bottom line! 

Taking Stock of Your Personal Telecom Network

We’ve all had a similar experience you get a bill in the mail, scan down to the bottom of the letter for the cost, and your eyes bulge. More than you expected? We know the feeling.

We also know that keeping your expenses down while maintaining the speeds and data you need to operate can be a delicate balance. With so many different options, how can you be sure you’re getting a great deal, as opposed to a raw one? Here are some tips for managing your own personal network to ensure you’re getting what you need without breaking the bank.

1: Assess your bills

You need to make sure you understand exactly what you are paying each month and what you’re getting for those payments. Are you paying full price? Are you paying for services you don’t need or want? How about services you don’t even realize you have access to? Are you signed up for a minimum-term contract with penalties for breaking it? If you don’t understand any aspect of your bill or service arrangement, call customer service and have them explain it to you!

This information is important not only for your own records, but also for your negotiations. If you know exactly what you’re paying for, you’ll know exactly how to bargain for better prices. Ensure that you review your account information, billing information and contract so you have a thorough understanding of where your money is going.

2: Know what you need

It’s very important to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes you see a deal that sounds too good to pass up, but you need to remember that a deal is only valuable if it’s something you’re actually going to use! Why pay for a great deal on a home phone and cable bundle if you only use your cell phone and stream Netflix? Even if you’re paying a reduced price, if you’re not using the product, it’s not worth your money.

3: Pay on time, in full

Phone and internet providers want your business as long as you’re paying for it. As soon as you’re not making timely payments, your business is no longer a priority. Write down your payment dates and pay them in full, on time, every month. As long as you keep consistent and you’re always paying on time, you have leverage to use in your service negotiations.  After all, the company wants to keep you as a customer! You can use that to bargain down prices.

4: Haggle

So now you’ve assessed your payments, you’ve trimmed the fat and gotten rid of the things you don’t need and you’ve paid your bills in full and on time. Your service provider wants to keep you around! Now is the time to haggle.

Don’t accept the posted price. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! If you can’t get a deal from the person you’re talking to, escalate the call and ask for the retention department. Come prepared with alternative options and services if they try to call your bluff – with the amount of competition, you can squeeze even the large companies to give you a discount.

Finally, remember to be polite and professional. Sometimes, discounts are discretionary – which means an employee can decide whether or not to offer them to a customer. If you’re rude and aggressive, you’re much less likely to be offered the discount.

Managing Your Personal Plastic Footprint

Plastic vs. Carbon

You’ve probably heard the term “carbon footprint” before in reference to how much your lifestyle contributes to creating the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change. In the same vein, your plastic footprint is the metric used to judge how much plastic you will contribute to the global trash pile.

Obviously, the two go hand-in-hand. In fact, one of the best ways to start reducing your carbon footprint is by diminishing your plastic use. That’s because plastic production is one of the most significant sources of carbon dioxide production on the planet. But plastic’s effect on your carbon footprint is just the beginning.

On average, a regular PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottle takes 450 years to degrade. Other types of plastics can take up to 1000 years. In other words, not only does our plastic consumption contribute to climate change, but our bottles, straws and bags will also outlive us several times over.

While our individual efforts often seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the production and pollution of large corporations, avoiding single-use plastics is a step everyone can take. Here are some methods to help reduce your plastic footprint on a personal level.

Reusable utensils with takeout:

Humans are creatures of convenience, and takeout is one of our ultimate creations in that regard. Unfortunately, takeout is usually packaged in plastic, carried in plastic, and consumed with plastic.

By turning down the single-use cutlery offered with your meal and instead using reusable forks, spoons and chopsticks, you can help cut down on your waste. If you want to take it a step further, bring a reusable container with you the next time you go out to dinner and ask to pack any leftovers in that instead of a single-use Styrofoam box.

Reusable bags:

Plastic bags clog sewers and storm drains, litter streets and contaminate our oceans, where they’re eaten by fish and suffocate seabirds. Keep reusable bags in your home, car and at work to cut back on your footprint – specifically, your plastic footprint

Experts still argue whether or not plastic bag bans and the focus on reusable bags are actually better for the environment, greenhouse gases-wise. After all, plastic bags are small, light and easy to transport whereas shipping an equivalent number of reusable bags takes a lot more fuel, space and energy.

Be Toiletry Aware:

Toothbrushes! Everyone has one, and they’re almost universally disposable. Instead of buying a pack of plastic toothbrushes and tossing them out after you’re done with them, look into a bamboo or electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are more efficient and produce less waste than regular plastic, while bamboo toothbrushes are compostable (though you may have to trim off the bristles!)

Safety razors are a great alternative to disposable razors and razor heads. Hold on to the dull blades after switching them out, and when you have enough to fill a small glass jar, take them off to be recycled!

Cotton swabs – the eponymous Q-Tips – often end up polluting the environment after being used to clean ears or apply creams or ointments. Next time you’re buying a box, look for the ones with paper sticks instead of plastic. They’re much quicker to degrade and work just as well.

Raise Your Reusable Goblet:

Humans drink a lot. Whether its coffee, water or something in between, the combination of a reusable mug and reusable water bottle can help you drastically reduce your plastic footprint. Bring your own mug to Starbucks or Tim Hortons and ask them to fill it for you. Keep a water bottle handy at your desk to fill at the cooler. You can even pick up a stainless steel or glass straw for those hot days when you’re opting for iced coffee.


Reducing your plastic use isn’t too difficult – but it can be frustrating when comparing your impact to that of corporations and governments. Despite this, by swapping out a few single-use plastics for reusable options, you can significantly reduce your personal plastic footprint and encourage others to do the same. The more that do, the more pressure can be put on the powers that be to do the same.

Where are the commercial delivery drones we were promised?

Picture this: It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, and you’re getting ready to grill up some burgers in the backyard. You’ve sliced up some onion and tomato, pulled the cheese and lettuce out of the fridge, and ground up your very own blend of 70/30 lean-to-fat beef. Finally, you reach for your favorite brioche buns when you see it: the speckles of blue and green mold.

You could yell for the kids to get out of the pool and get changed so you can head to the grocery store and pick up some buns. You could make an order on a food delivery app and pray they get the right kind to you in a timely manner. Or, you can grab your cell phone, tap a few buttons, and head out to the yard.

You’ve laid out all your ingredients in a perfect assembly line, seasoned your patties, and pressed them on the grill with a satisfying sizzle. And just as you pull your burgers off the heat at a perfect medium-rare, you hear a faint buzzing noise above you. You look up to see a large rectangle adorned with six sets of spinning blades surrounding a sturdy plastic case. It hovers above you for a moment before slowly descending towards an empty section of grass in the yard. It lands and the blades come to a halt. You walk over, click open the plastic case, and retrieve a fresh bag of brioche buns from inside. You close the case, take a few steps back, and the rectangle comes to life, blades whirring, and flies off once more into the sky.

Though it may still sound like sci-fi, this was the future promised to us by countless tech CEOs a few years ago, chief among them being Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Back in December of 2013, Bezos announced that Amazon would be flying delivery drones to customers within five years. That deadline has since passed – but not because of the technology. Instead, it’s the regulation and logistics that are holding back the tide.

Alphabet (the parent company of Google) has a startup called Wing, which became the first drone delivery company to gain the FAA’s approval to make commercial deliveries in the United States in April. Other companies are still waiting for their status to be greenlit, such as Amazon Air, Uber Eats, and most recently, UPS.

The shipping giant has formed a new subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward Inc. and applied for their certification with the ultimate goal of running one of the first commercial drone delivery programs in the United States.

In March, UPS partnered with drone startup Matternet to transport medical samples via drone across a WakeMed hospital system in Raleigh, N.C., which became the first FAA sanctioned use of a drone for routine, revenue producing flights under a contractual delivery agreement.

Just last month, Amazon announced its new commercial delivery drone, promising that it would be delivering packages to customers within months. Of course, Amazon doesn’t have a great track record for meeting their deadlines in the air-delivery space. Amazon’s drone design has seen more than 20 iterations since its announcement in 2013, yet it remains the stringent regulatory restrictions holding back the rollout of their delivery program.

In the U.S., the major piece of regulation you’d need to operate a drone delivery service is called Part 135 certification under the Federal Aviation Administration, which applies to “air carriers and operators.” Drones are considered under the same umbrella as airplanes under federal law, and they’re subject to the same certification processes. The Part 135 certification allows for approved drones to fly at night, over people, and outside the operator’s direct line of sight.

Another factor to consider is public perception. In 2017, a PEW Research Center survey showed that 54 percent of Americans polled disapproved of drones flying near residential areas at all.

Whether or not this opinion has remained the same in the past two years, it hasn’t stopped these companies from continuing their preparation for the future. With UPS joining the fray, Wing receiving their Part 135 certification, and Amazon announcing – again – that Prime Air will be up and running soon, the future of a sky filled with delivery drones doesn’t seem all that far off.

Payment Processing: Innovation, Security, Threats

As the number of electronic transactions grow, so do the opportunities for cybercriminals to steal money. As a merchant, you need to provide the best payment security possible, so your customers don’t have to worry about their data. As a customer, you need to be aware of the threats against you – and the technological advances that help combat them.

From the cardboard and celluloid cards pre-1958 to the biometrics, geolocation and tokenization security of today, the merchant services industry has been evolving in the security department since the very beginning. Here are some of the important aspects of payment security and how they’ve developed over the years.

PCI Compliance

PCI Compliance refers to the security standards established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council in 2006, and they’re an important indicator of security status today. These standards were created to ensure that anyone who processes, transmits or maintains payment data has proper security in place. PCI standards are frequently adapted, and they differentiate security measures for merchants based on both the volume and type of transactions they process. In other words, PCI compliance is both very important, and very confusing.

Card Tech

In 1958, the first plastic payment card was created. By the 1970s, we’d seen the addition of tamper-resistant signature panels, microprint security, and card embossing designed to protect card carriers from nefarious counterfeiters.

Electronic security found its stride in the mid-80s with the development of risk scoring and real-time electronic authorization designed to protect against fraud. In the 90s, we saw the addition of the CVV security code for magnetic stripes, and the first inklings of EMV chip card technology. EMV chips were added into payment cards because of the greater payment security it offers, plus its resilience against “skim” scams compared to magnetic strips. Chip technology also uses encryption and tokenization to further protect against theft. In fact, the Department of Justice estimates that 86 percent of identity theft cases originate with existing account information. This information is protected by EMV chips in the case of a breach.

Speaking of breaches – some major ones took place in the 2000s. In 2003, it was the DPI data breach that saw eight million card accounts compromised. In 2005, CardSystems Solutions was breached; 40 million cards were compromised. In 2010, ALDI debit card accounts and pins were stolen from nearly 1,100 grocery stores, and the following year Michaels was breached for the first of three times in three years, potentially compromising PINs and three million payment card accounts. In 2013, Target was breached with 40 million payment card accounts stolen and an estimated industry cost of $248 million.

This is all to say that, as security tech advances, so do the threats they protect against. This digital arms race continues today, as we shift away from static solutions to dynamic, more resilient technology.

The Future of Payment Security

The payment card industry projected $31.3 billion in global card losses to security threats in 2018. Another study found that retailers stand to lose some $130 billion in fraud between 2018 and 2023. No matter which way you look at it, financial institutions across the globe must push to be more innovative than the fraudsters if they want to keep their – and your – money safe.

Some of those innovations include tokenization, biometric data, geolocation, improved chip tech, and an ever-increasing base of data analytics. In fact, the technology is becoming so impressive that tech-wizard hackers are no longer the only major threat in day-to-day fraud. Instead, it’s the social hackers using card-not-present scams that have begun to take advantage of less tech-savvy audiences – and retailers are ill-prepared to fight it.

Conclusion

The faster we connect, digitize, and innovate our daily transactions, the more risks are introduced. The payment security landscape is akin to the Wild West, and it is more important today than ever before to make sure your electronic payment processing environment is as secure as it can be.

Thankfully, security is a deterrent to fraudsters in itself. Hackers tend to search for low-risk, high-reward options. Much like keeping your Point-of-Sale terminal under lock and key when it’s not in use, adequate payment processing security is usually enough to make your accounts unattractive targets. After all, you can’t get breached if no one is willing to try!