Payment Card Fraud Is Falling in France

But online and cross-border payments still present a problem

Author: Cliff Annicelli

September 7, 2017

Bank card payment fraud in France declined for the first time in several years in 2016, according to a study by the Observatoire de la Sécurité des Moyens de Paiement (OSMP) of the Bank of France. But the majority fraud happened online and in the context of cross-border purchases.

The OSMP found that fraudulent payments made using bank cards dropped by 4.1% in 2016 to total €399.1 million ($440 million). Such fraud had grown annually since at least 2009, according to the OSMP.

Payment cards still accounted for the largest share of fraudulent non-cash transactions recorded in France last year, making up about half of the total of €800 million in bogus payments.

All told, 0.064% of card transactions were fraudulent in 2016. That was down from 0.070% in 2015, and the lowest rate recorded since 2011, according to the OSMP.

The OSMP attributed that decline to the spread of stronger digital payment authentication methods, such as the online payment security protocol known as 3D-Secure that underpins services like Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode and American Express SafeKey.

Although digital purchases have been getting harder for scammers to manipulate, the OSMP found that approximately two-thirds of fraudulent card purchases were made via online transactions in 2016. However, OSMP's figures show only 12% of total card transactions were made online in France last year.

The OSMP also found that the payment fraud rate for cross-border purchases (0.353% of transactions) was almost 10 times higher than for domestic transactions (0.037%).

However, the rate of fraudulent cross-border purchases recorded in 2016 was down 5% from 0.372% in 2015, showing some improvement.

That's good news for France's cross-border ecommerce business, which continues to grow. Cross-border sales in France are expected to account for 17.9% of all retail ecommerce sales in the country this year, according to research by the Centre for Retail Research for RetailMeNot.

In all, the Centre for Retail Research estimated cross-border retail ecommerce sales in France will total €8.68 billion ($9.60 billion) this year. That’s up from €7.50 billion ($8.30 billion) in 2016.