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Is Pokemon Go Secure Enough for Your Credit Card?

Is Pokemon Go Secure Enough for Your Credit Card?

July 21, 2016
pokemon go
source: Shutterstock

Pokemon Go, the latest game developed by Niantic, has taken the entire world by storm, and it looks like it will pretty soon become a cultural phenomenon. Although the free app was launched recently, it already has more than 21 million daily active users. This is more than Twitter, and people also spend more time in the game than they do on Facebook. As a result, the stocks of those companies involved with the game have skyrocketed. Nintendo shares have jumped by more than 120% since July 6, adding $23 billion to the company’s market value.

In spite of all these important achievements, Pokemon Go has also attracted an unexpected amount of bad press. This is because some players have injured themselves while playing in unsafe areas. But it isn’t the only downside to the game. Pokemon Go could also put its users at risk of credit card fraud.

How secure is Pokemon Go?

The game does not directly collect your credit card data. It does, however, gather a lot of personal information, such as GPS locations, contact lists or the contents of your SD card. This means that the app always knows who and where you are. And it’s sending this information back to Niantic, who can not only store it but also sell it to third parties. This is all written in the game’s long privacy policy, which you can(and should) see here.

You might say that Niantic is not interested in using your information to steal your credit card data, and this is probably true. But the fact is that the app still has access to your information. No method of transmitting information over the Internet or storing information is completely secure. One skilled hacker could hit the jackpot just by hacking this single app or its servers.

But the greatest risk of credit card fraud comes from the in-app purchases, one of the game’s revenue sources. Users can buy products from third parties while still playing the game. They have to pay for the things that they buy with their credit card, which means that they do enter their payment information into the system, which in turn means that they make themselves vulnerable to credit card fraud.

Statista, one of the world’s largest statistics portals, expects worldwide revenue for Pokemon Go in-app purchases to reach $58.2 billion by the end of the year, and to go to as much as $76.5 billion in 2017. But these numbers could be even higher, as the game expands to other platforms, such as Windows Phones, and as its popularity continues to increase. With so much money involved, you can’t but wonder how secure Pokemon Go really is.

The game’s developers will surely answer this questions sooner or later. Hopefully, it won’t be too late.

Thomas Hookton

Thomas Hookton is a finance journalist, history buff and science fiction connoisseur. Hit him up via email.

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