Ajit Doval Bears Down On Digital Payment Platforms in India

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The grass really isn’t always greener on the other side. With the hoopla and convenience that Digital Payment platforms in India have afforded the customers, it has also come out as the perfect exponent of being two-edged swords.

The National Security Advisor, Mr. Ajit Doval, has raised concerns against digital payment platforms, pointing out that financial frauds have seen an exponential increase due to greater dependence on digital payment platforms following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delivering a lecture on Cybersecurity virtually at the COCONXIII-2020, data privacy and hacking conference hosted by the Kerala Police and the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace and Information Security Research Association, he said that due to a greater dependence on digital payment platforms and reduced cash handling, more and more data sharing is happening online and presence on social media has also increased as one way traffic.

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The pandemic has been complicit in ushering in a sudden digital wave of sorts, leading to a change in work environments. This has forced the masses to take the online route wherever possible.

And that is the point, according to the NSA, as malicious actors also found a new opportunity during this time.

India is certainly a hotbed for online payments as evidenced by the following. In July 2020, UPI transactions in India crossed 1.49 billion in volume and $41 billion in transaction value. This has been coupled with an increase in smartphone penetration and mobile internet access, making India one of the fastest-growing countries adopting digital payments in the world.

The months during the pandemic has seen a rapid rise in cybercrimes such as web-skimming, malware campaigns and phishing scams in the country, as reported by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) and Paypal on Fraud & Risk Management in Digital Payments.

Moreover, with increasing reports and incidences of ransomware attacks, as much as 47% of respondents from Tier-I cities of India are concerned about digital payment frauds. This is according to a recent study carried out by YouGov and ACI Worldwide. The report also recommended the usage of fraud prevention strategies such as IP geolocation to verify consumer’s data to determine the location at the time of purchase and proxy IP address detection for instant detection of anonymous IP addresses used by fraudsters.

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In line with Mr. Doval’s concerns, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is said to be in the process of constructing a digital payment index, in order to assess the extent of digitisation in the country and innovation in existing modes and channels to bridge the digital divide. The high-level committee headed by Nandan Nilekani aims to provide ample security measure in addition to strengthening roots of digital payment in the country.

As India is estimated to account for 2.2% of the global digital payment market by 2023, it’s high time to pay the heed to the NSA’s advice and follow stringent practices. The payment industry of India, along with the government, is already gearing to train and upskill law enforcement agencies (LEAs). On an individual level, every citizen needs to guard against potential threats.

While the present crisis has provided a goldmine of data to be accessed, let us steer clear of fake news and misinformation. Stay tuned to this space for more updates.  

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