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30pc of mobile banking apps offer strong security: study

March 21, 2012

The Bank of China mobile app

Although mobile banking continues to gain traction with consumers, a large chunk of the world’s top banks have not equipped their applications with substantial security, according to a report from MyPrivateBanking.

In the “Mobile apps in banking” MyPrivateBanking report, the researcher looked at how mobile banking apps are stacking up at a global level for financial institutions. Although the need is there, some financial institutions are not making the cut with their mobile efforts.

“Overall, the MyPrivateBanking report comes to the conclusion that the mobile revolution has reached the banking industry, but development here is still only at a very immature stage,” said Steffen Binder, managing director of MyPrivateBanking, Zurich, Switzerland.

“Currently, about two-thirds of the banks analyzed offer only very basic banking apps with limited functionality and little content,” he said.

“Only a handful of banks can claim that they have a comprehensive and user-friendly portfolio of financial apps for private clients. Even now, some global banks still offer no apps at all for private clients.”

MyPrivateBanking is a research company that works with financial services firms to offer recommendations on digital banking strategies which include social media, Web and mobile initiatives.

Mobile security
MyPrivateBanking looked at 50 of the world’s biggest banks and almost 200 apps.

The research found that the majority of the world’s top 50 banks are offering mobile apps to clients. However, the majority of them include only broad features that are similar to online banking.

When it comes to security, mobile apps do not have the same level of online banking tools, per the report.

For example, mobile apps should not let users store their passwords and user names to keep consumers protected.

Additionally, many of the banks surveyed do not include information about the privacy policies inside apps.

The report named Bank of China as the financial institution with the best mobile app.

In addition to basic account information, Bank of China clients can access brokerage functions, market data, financial planning tools and information on Bank of China’s products and services. The Bank of China app also includes several security barriers that makes it difficult to hack.

Deutsche Bank, National Australian and Erste Bank also scored well with MyPrivateBanking for their mobile apps that do more than just let users simply view and transfer funds.

Apple still reigns as the most popular banking app platform, showing how many financial instructions are placing big bets on the iPhone and iPad devices.

However, with the growth of Android and other smartphone operating systems globally, banks need to think about a broader app strategy to target as many users as possible.

For example, 94 percent of the banks with a mobile app surveyed include an account overview option in the apps. Eighty-four percent of the banks offer a branch and ATM finder.

Bank on mobile
The report also found that a small number of banks are using their mobile apps to incorporate other digital channels, including video and social media.

Eighteen percent of mobile banking apps included a connection to a bank’s Facebook page, and 32 percent of apps let users watch videos via their handsets, showing how financial institutions need to think of ways to combine all digital channels into an app.

In addition to making a transaction, mobile bankers also want more detailed financial news. Market information was included in 64 percent of the apps surveyed.

To strengthen their mobile apps MyPrivateBanking, offers three tips to financial institutions – prioritize, pick a demographic and include additional content.

Companies should think long-term about how they plan to upgrade apps once they are live in the App Stores. By thinking ahead, financial institutions can strategize how to roll out second and third-generation apps.

Additionally, an app needs to target a specific group of clients from a financial institution with features that meet their needs, including market research.

Finally, including corporate information about the bank and all of its services is critical to giving clients a full look at all of the services that are available to them.

Although security still remains a problem, more financial institutions need to test mobile to meet the needs of on-the-go consumers, per Mr. Binder.

“Banks are very slow to adapt their features to the mobile world,” Mr. Binder said.

“There are legitimate security concerns but there is also a let’s-wait-and-see approach of many banks, which is exposing them to the risk to lose important customer segments to faster-moving competitors,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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