Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prevent ATM Skimming With A Few Simple Tricks

ATM “skimming” (i.e., stealing PINs and account information by use of illegal devices/cameras) is a growing problem. CEO Kirk Sanford and Sightline Payments encourage patrons to follow the Better Business Bureau recommendations in order to prevent becoming a victim of ATM thieves, who steal as much as $1 billion annually from unsuspect ATM users. Javelin Strategy & Research estimates that one in five people have become victims.

Kirk Sanford recently stated, "Identity thieves tamper with ATMs, including those in casinos, in any number of different ways in order to steal debit card numbers and PINs. It only takes a few seconds to install cameras over the keypad or a device over the card reader. ATMs aren't the only hot spots; credit card swipers at gas pumps and retailers can be tampered with as well."

A Better Business Bureau spokesperson adds, "Skimming devices are becoming increasingly harder to detect and often blend in seamlessly with the ATM."

Kirk Sanford and Sightline Payments suggest following some simple safety measures, such as covering the keypad with your other hand when you enter your PIN and avoiding low-light ATMs or machines in low traffic areas.

Other tips include looking at the ATM carefully; if you notice what appears to be a damaged or odd area, giving it a wiggle may demonstrate a skimmer. Always be prepared to walk away and find another ATM if there’s any cause for suspicion.

Perhaps the best prevention (or minimization) of ATM theft is to pay careful attention to your bank statements, and then reporting any discrepancies or suspicious activity as soon as possible.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mobile Wallet Adoption in the Casino Payments Industry

There is a lot of talk about mobile payments and the applications to the casino industry may be the most interesting. The question about when credit or debit cards, checks, and cash will be “Mobile Funds” may be getting closer given the recent developments from the card issuers, mobile carriers, mobile consumers, casino operators, and start-up gaming payment companies like Sightline Payments.

Kirk Sanford stated “Through our technology and processing partners, hundreds of millions of mobile subscribers in the US can one day use their mobile phones to complete transactions quickly and securely while having the freedom to choose the financial instruments in their mobile wallet and subsequently make a transfer into their pre-paid account for gaming entertainment.”

Carriers and credit-card companies like Visa and MasterCard are embracing near-field communications, or NFC, which allows people to wave their card or mobile phone in front of an NFC reader to pay for goods and services. NFC is already found in credit and debit cards, and can be accepted at drugstore chains and gas stations. Companies now rely on NFC stickers or memory cards with an NFC chip inserted into mobile phones.

Merchants such as Starbucks are utilizing a competing technology with QR bar codes। Financial institutions, merchants, mobile network operators, payment networks, NFC chip manufacturers, and mobile payment vendors all have a vested interest in the deployment of NFC enabled mobile wallets, an application that essentially turns a mobile phone into a wallet that can carry payment instruments and other features such as loyalty programs, couponing, ticketing, and entry keys.

Here are some of the casino mobile wallet (Mobile Funds) questions to be considered:
• What are the primary obstacles to mobile wallet deployment in casinos?
• What should be the clear direction for a comprehensive mobile wallet deployment be in casinos?
• What do card issuers, mobile carriers, mobile consumers, and casino operators desire from mobile wallet deployment?
• How should casino operators market mobile wallet functionality?
• How many consumers are likely to adopt mobile contactless in the United States?
• What lessons from international markets may be applied to the United States?
• Could casinos be the first to see a broader adoption of mobile payments?