Smartphones are so ubiquitous these days that many people are using them not only for calls and texts, but also for banking applications and mobile payment options. Banks especially use these apps as a convenient way for customers to access their banking information. Millennials and Gen Xers are leading the mobile banking app charge, making up 72% of mobile payment users.
Banks go beyond simply allowing account access from mobile devices. Smartphones can be used for:
- Bill payments, including by text message
- Money transfers
- Online purchases
- Point of Sale purchases
Pew Research estimates that approximately 114 million people in the United States — 46% of consumers — have used their smartphone to make a payment. And it isn’t just consumers who enjoy the technology. Providers pushing the software include such big name players as:
As with anything technological, security and privacy are issues that should be examined closely. 73% of those who don’t use mobile banking options are concerned about security, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Board. Mobile devices are not immune to malware hidden in text messages or bad links, and the majority of cybercriminals aren’t interested in affecting the device’s regular functions — meaning users may not even be aware that their smartphone is essentially a ticking time bomb waiting for the next time they log into their bank account.
Mobile payment users can protect their devices in a few ways:
- Updating their operating system
- Installing anti-malware programs
- Avoiding suspicious links, both in text messages and online
While users should have the responsibility of protecting their own devices, providers should be protecting their code right down to the binary. Even the most conscientious mobile user can fall prey to hackers who get into the binary and decompile or reverse engineer private details. This isn’t something that a regular mobile user can prevent or fix, which means that it’s up to the providers offering the software to use available tools to protect their code.
Mobile payments are a quick and easy way for users to purchase items, pay their bills, or just check the status of their bank account. With the predicted increase in mobile payment revenue — over $1 trillion by 2019, according to market intelligence provider TrendForce — providers cannot afford to put out software that isn’t as secure as possible.