One of the biggest hurdles that FinTech companies and app developers have had to overcome is the distrust that many hold for new technologies — especially when it involves their money. While some of those concerns have been quelled over the years not everyone is ready to get on board just yet. In fact a report by the Federal Reserve found that 42% of mobile users believe that using banking apps is at best a somewhat unsafe practice. So are banking apps as secure as they should be?
According to Alyssa Oursler at USA Today, it depends. The overall security of banking applications can vary due to a few different factors, including some on the user’s end. Here are a few questions to keep in mind when assessing if an app is safe or not:
What type of device/OS are you using?
Even if an app is built to be secure, it can be compromised if your device is lacking. For those with jailbroken devices it’s a bad idea to run banking applications on your phone because you’ve overridden the operating system’s security features. If you don’t know what “jailbroken” means then you’re probably fine as long as you purchased your device sealed in the box and haven’t done anything to tamper with the OS.
Where did you download it from?
Downloading programs from the internet can be dangerous even if it looks legitimate. For that reason it’s always best to stick to official sources for applications such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Both of these platforms have stringent approval processes that protect users from spam and malware and make chances of you running into a fake banking app extremely slim.
How strict are its password rules and other security features?
Most banks require you to have more elaborate passwords than your typical site. This includes passwords that are case sensitive, contain special characters, and use a mix of letters and numbers. Additionally the app should limit login attempts just in case someone tries to guess their way into your account. If a banking app is lacking these types of features it may not be a good idea to use it.
Where are you connecting from?
Equally as important as the app itself is how you’re connecting to it. Accessing sensitive information from public WiFi is almost never a good idea. That being said, if you absolutely must use a banking app while on public WiFi, protect yourself by using a virtual private network (VPN) that will allow for a more secure connection.
In most cases FinTech is not something to be feared. Furthermore the reason that FinTech companies and mobile banking applications have become so popular is because of how efficient, convenient, and helpful they are. However taking extra steps to ensure that your personal and financial information is protected is important as well. By paying attention to what apps you’re downloading, what security features they boast, and making sure that you’re using them from safe locations, you can avoid many of the dangers that using such apps might pose.