Are mobile banking apps experiencing growing pains?

Posted on: April 09th, 2015 by Art Barger

For years, banks and phones have gone hand in hand. The contact center has long been the go-to customer service platform for things like making money transfers and resolving issues. Now, the new Federal Reserve Consumers and Mobile Financial Services Report shows how expanded capabilities in mobile devices are increasing the telephone-banking engagement.

According to the recent article, “Has Mobile Banking Usage Reached A Plateau?” mobile banking with adults increased to 39 percent last year, a six percent jump from 2013 (33%). This marks the fourth straight growth year for mobile banking and mobile payments.

The study also found that for the third year in a row, over half of smartphone users (52% in 2014) use mobile banking. The most frequent banking activities include checking account balances and transactions (94%), downloading their bank’s mobile banking app on their mobile phone (71%) and transferring money between accounts (61%).

Of course, much of the mobile banking growth has been fueled by the ever-increasing number of overall smartphone owners. This has also prompted a boom in mobile banking apps, which allow customers to perform banking functions like make a bill payment over their mobile phones.

Still in its infancy, banking apps have seen their hiccups in recent years. Findings from a study by Appvigil, an Android App Security scanner, revealed that 70 percent of the Top 100 mobile banking apps on the Android operating system in India and the APAC region have loopholes that can make them vulnerable to security attacks and data breaches.

“Most of the mobile banking apps failed and many didn’t employ even the basic security checks expected.”

The report states that these vulnerabilities are often the result of banks putting too much focus on product features and performance rather than implementing security measure like customer authentication using one-time passwords (OTP). With today’s security threats, most American and European banks have deployed proper security measures. But those that haven’t secured their mobile environments with an effective and efficient authentication method, could fall victim to cyber threats and other data compromises.

The goal of mobile banking apps is to provide fast, safe and convenient banking for the mobile user. While banks are still working on building secure and responsive mobile apps, they cannot afford to overlook the security and authentication components that can impact the overall customer experience. Anything that falls short of that goal could potentially expose sensitive customer information and create irreversible damage the profitable bank-customer relationship.