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Exploring Mobile Payment Security

Mobile payment has become one of the major payment solutions in the world, however, the hidden risk behind cannot be ignored. This article briefly explains the security measures of WeChat Pay and Alipay, the two most popular QR-code-based mobile payment solutions in China.

First of all, both WeChat Pay and Alipay allow one account to be active on one device only. There may be additional verification procedure when the account is logged onto a different device and/or a different location. As both systems are mobile-based, using them on PC require verification from the mobile device as well. (e.g. Web for WeChat login require mobile approval, and the account will be logged out when instructed by mobile side). Both APPs also have an additional password for payment service, which keeps the risk of unauthorised payment to a minimum level.

For offline payment scenario, it is usually safer as the payer authorises payment face-to-face. The potential risk is that the payer’s phone has been stolen thus the payment is authorised by someone else. However, it is common nowadays for people to lock their phone, some people even add additional password on specific APPs (Android).

Most unauthorised payments occur in online payment scenario, usually by the scam. Consider the security measures of the account, the risk of a payment account being hacked is relatively low.

One payment method that is usually used as fraud is that the recipient scans the payer’s payment QR code and collect money directly without payer entering the password. This method was initially used for face to face payment but has been used by fraudster more frequently. To accommodate this, user’s payment QR code will change in every 3 minutes and will be invalid once the payment has been collected, or when the user screenshot the code.

Like all financial institutions, WeChat Pay, Alipay and Globepay continuously improve and maintain their payment security system to ensure that all payments are true and authorised, and keep any risk to the merchant and the payer at the minimum level.

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