In 2016, Bangladesh’s central bank experienced an unprecedented cyberattack via the SWIFT messaging system resulting in $81 million in losses. The same scenario occurred in Russia where the central bank recorded 2 billion rubles in losses ($31 million) – less than was originally planned by the attackers thanks to a prompt response by the bank. In the US alone, data breaches increased by 40% in 2016 compared to 2015 and, just recently, the security firm Kaspersky announced that cyber criminality is on the rise with finance and banking being the favored targets. In 2016, there was a 13% increase in phishing attacks compared to 2015 while Trojan attacks experienced a 30.5% increase, affecting over almost 2 million individuals worldwide.
It is not surprising that a growing number of people, are becoming more cautious when it comes to using alternative payment methods as the fear of an attack goes beyond the simple financial loss: the threat of someone stealing your identity is a legitimate concern especially when considering the consequences of such a transgression on one’s personal life.
Even former Police Chief and Interpol President Björn Eriksson says there are reasons to be cautious when it comes to encouraging cashlessness: “Little has been said about the major challenges that a cashless society brings. It infringes on people’s privacy. It can make life difficult in sparsely populated areas. It can make a society vulnerable and increasingly open to sophisticated internet crimes.”
Cash generates security thanks to its tangibility and independence from technology infrastructures such as a mobile network, the internet or Point of Sale (POS) terminals. When you pay in cash, your identity is preserved, unlike with other digital payments where an important amount of information is exchanged between the bank, the merchant and the machine.