Consumers have become more confident about using their mobile phones for banking transactions according to new research from The Nielsen Company. This trend is also outlined in a recent white paper from Juniper Research that projects the number of worldwide mobile phone users who perform mobile banking will double from 200 million this year to 400 million in 2013. In the U.S., it is the more affluent consumers who are leading the charge, but in the rest of the world, it’s far more likely to be the norm for all users.
For consumers, the appeal of mobile banking is clear; it’s convenient, and empowers us through real-time balance checks and transfers of funds, and provides a more consistent banking experience. However, with all these benefits come risks that every mobile user of financial services should be aware of, and take precautions against.
The risks are pretty straightforward: crooks want your cash and/or your credit – and they’re willing to go to some work to try collecting the information they need to steal it.
Ask yourself three questions before transacting through your phone:
- Is your phone secure? As more consumers use smart phones, and a few key market leaders emerge, malware targeting phones will continue to increase. Be sure you have up-to-date security software, which means antivirus and anti-spyware protection installed.
- Do you have a secure password/PIN? Every phone should have a password lock to prevent others from using it. However, if you have any sensitive information stored on your phone, you need to be particularly diligent in ensuring your phone’s password is strong. See my blog Safe passwords don’t have to be hard to create; just hard to guess. Then, don’t share your password with anyone or respond to any e-mail requesting that information.
- Is your connection secure? If you are surfing over your phone carrier’s network, you are quite safe, however, if you are using WiFi to connect, be sure you know and trust the WiFi connection. Do Not use a public WiFi for financial transactions. See my blog Like Lambs to the Slaughter? Firesheep Lets Anyone be a Hacker
If you’ve successfully answered all of the above then you’re off to a good start. The bottom line: Before you conduct your most sensitive financial transactions you need to be absolutely certain both the Internet connection and the mobile device or computer you’re using is secure. If you don’t have 100 percent confidence – don’t take the chance.