- By Kevin Peachey
- Reporter’s living expenses
May is a month full of bank holidays, but while institutions may take a break, our financial lives never stop.
A few extra days off won’t affect our ability to find, order, and buy and receive items. Our requests as consumers are met almost immediately without having to leave the sofa.
But does this “everything now” culture leave us vulnerable to making bad choices, scams, and stress? For better or worse, will a delay in payments make balances less convenient and more secure?
For Emma Quinn, the implications are serious. As a person with bipolar disorder, manic episodes can be accompanied by extravagant spending. She booked everything from takeout to comfort dining, to furniture and flights that she didn’t need or intend to use.
In times of depression and stress, emotional shopping could fill a need – a bit like gambling – and she bought “whatever popped into my head”.
“You just click and don’t think about the consequences,” said the 30-year-old.
To combat problems, she does everything she can, whenever possible, to make the purchasing process as slow as possible. Her willingness to talk about these issues also shows an admirable desire to help others do the same.
Her own safeguards include deleting any saved records of her card details on the retailer’s or marketplace’s website. She has set up an alert on banking apps asking her to confirm payments and adds another barrier to quick payments. Her parents also have some backup control over her finances.
Sometimes banking technology helps her. At other times, like when she’s offered an automatic credit line extension, it’s a hindrance.
According to Conor D’Arcy, head of research and policy at the Mental Health and Money Policy Institute, retailers can do more to help people like Emma.
“Targeted ads, compelling nudges and the expansion of easy payment options have led to spending money on things we may not need and sometimes cannot afford,” he said. easier than ever.”
“For people who struggle with things like impulsiveness or indulgent spending, that can escalate very quickly and become a path to debt.”
The situation becomes even more acute at a time when the cost of living is so high, he said.
What about adding some barrier to our payments? Technology means that we, as consumers, can now transfer large amounts of money quickly and easily.
Scammers have taken advantage to an incredible extent. Scams can range from fake delivery messages asking for payment, which is common during the pandemic, to higher-value losses when scammers pose as lawyers during the pandemic. home buying process.
People are tricked into sending money to someone they believe is a genuine merchant, or even a true lover. All in all, these payouts – which appear to be perfectly valid transactions – hit seven-figure amounts per day. Figures from banking trade body UK Finance show total losses from authorized push payment fraud amounting to £249 million in the first six months of last year.
Does slowing these payments allow people more time to identify fraud risks? There are some conflicting views in the financial sector.
Mike Crichton, from Outseer, which provides anti-fraud products to businesses, said: “Unfortunately, the genie has been abandoned and consumers, banks and regulators alike want and need it. expect faster and faster payments.
“It may not be a popular decision, but while consumers are catching up to the pace [through fraud education]slowing down some payments with more intervention from banks and regulators can help stop fraudulent transactions in the short term.”
His argument for banks that can’t prove they have advanced ways to detect fraud are forced by regulators to slow down payments.
But Jim Winters, director of economic crime at the National Construction Association, said the fraud started long before any payments were made, such as trapping victims on social media. Information shared between the retail, tech and banking sectors will be a particularly effective weapon against fraud, he said.
“While delaying payments may allow more fraudulent payments to be recovered, it will not prevent economic crime from occurring and will delay legitimate payments. Ideally, we would find a solution that balances consumer convenience with the ability to prevent fraud and scams from following their tracks,” he said.
The near-instant payment system in the UK is literally called Faster Payments. Direct debit operates under a different system, which will be halted during bank holidays – something businesses need to survive in May.
In the end, there may be more friction along the way, but a lot can be done to detect and prevent fraud long before a payment is actually made.
Pay.uk is the operator and standards body for interbank payments and in 2020 it launched what it calls a “primary tool” in the fight against fraud.
Payee Confirmation is the process of checking the arrangement code and account number against the name of the intended recipient. If the name on the account is different from the person you think you’re paying, a warning will be issued and you can stop completing the payment.
This will help prevent scammers from pretending to be someone trusted or known to you to get your money.
And, like so many other payment elements today, checks are made instantly.