August 3, 2021
Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, firstname.lastname@example.org, (412) 945-3242
Washington, DC—With fraud linked to the COVID-19 pandemic at record levels, the National Consumers League (NCL) today cited the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps by scammers as a significant contributor to the problem. In testimony before the Senate’s Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, NCL Vice President John Breyault urged Congress to extend key consumer fraud protections to cover victims of scams who are tricked into sending money via P2P apps.
According to a 2020 Nerdwallet survey, roughly 4 in 5 Americans (79 percent) have used mobile payment apps. The explosive growth of P2P apps has accelerated significantly during the pandemic. Research firm Insider Intelligence estimated that the transaction volume for P2P payments will increase by roughly 37% in 2021, with total annual transaction volume over P2P apps expected to surpass $1 trillion by 2023.
“The same factors that are fueling the rapid growth of P2P payment platforms during the pandemic – low-cost, nearly instantaneous payments made via a mobile app – have made P2P a payment method of choice for scammers,” said Breyault. “If these platforms are making the decision to skew their services towards speed and convenience at the expense of safety and protection, then they must take responsibility for those choices.”
In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 62,000 complaints from consumers who sent money to fraudsters via payment apps or similar services. Agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and organizations like the Better Business Bureau have seen similar complaint spikes. Data from security firms Sift and Chargeback suggest that fraud rates on P2P apps may be three to four times higher than on credit or debit cards.
To address this fraud, NCL called on Congress to enact legislation that extends the fraud protections debit and credit card users rely on to users of P2P payment apps. In addition, NCL urged Congress to pass new laws to strengthen consumer protections, including requiring P2P platforms to display information about scams targeting P2P apps and maintain toll-free customer support lines.
“The lack of consumer protections for users of P2P payment platforms must not be ignored,” said Breyault. “It is clear that absent regulatory incentives, effective self-regulation by the P2P services will be stymied in the name of protecting transaction volume growth. Congress must act.”
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.