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Would you do all your banking on your mobile phone?

Mobile banking

With the decline in high street bank branches and the rise in mobile-only banks, branchless banking seems to be the way of the future. Could you be convinced to give it a try?

Only a few months into 2017 comes the announcement from big high street banks that 141 more branches have shut, or will shut this year.

Meanwhile, we’re witnessing the rise of branchless firms like Atom Bank, Monzo and Revolut, which can only be accessed using a smartphone app.

Where do you stand on the mobile banking ‘revolution’? Late last year, we ran an online survey of 9,076 Which? members – it suggested that more than half of under-40s would be happy to open a mobile-only account. However, this figure dips dramatically for those aged 40 and over.

The pros and cons of mobile-only banking

Earlier this year, Atom Bank launched a range of highly competitive savings accounts in an attempt to lure customers. The move suggested that better savings rates could prove to be a key advantage of branchless banking.

However, the resulting rush of desperate savers reportedly caused its smartphone app to crash.

At times like these, the drawbacks of having no in-branch customer service becomes painfully obvious. Although many savers could be happy to sacrifice face-to-face service for better interest rates, this error reportedly meant that some couldn’t even apply for them.

Would you give mobile banking a try?

Previous Which? research revealed that the major banks closed over 1,000 branches between January 2015 and January 2017.

When we posted about this issue a few months ago, the majority of commenters, including Diane Lyne, appeared to agree that this was far from ideal:

‘I am very upset at the closure of my local NatWest, I’m not happy to do online banking. I’m a senior and have been with NatWest for forty odd years. This closure is going to make life doubly difficult for me, I prefer the human touch.’

Here’s what Stuart L had to say:

‘Yes, internet banking and the ‘hole in the wall’ does obviate some need for branches, but when there is a problem or you need to pay in – especially coins – a long journey is inevitable. The banks (AND Building Societies) MUST stop and think again. Shared facilities, part-time branches in stores, mobile banks should all be on the agenda.’

However, Wavechange would consider other options:

‘Apart from visiting my bank a couple of times to set up a large payment, the only times I have visited my bank in the past year have been to deposit cheques, sometimes just posting them through the letterbox. I would be happy to use an ATM to do this if the facility was provided. I do appreciate that some people want to keep their bank branch and my branch is usually busy when I have been into it or walked past.’

Yet, the latest branch closure figures suggest that financial firms are continuing to push their customers towards mobile or online banking.

What would it take for you to get on board with mobile banking? Could you ever be comfortable completing financial transactions through your smartphone? Do you already use mobile-only banking and, if so, what’s your experience of it like so far?


Not in the years left I have , never going to happen , this is all part of removing fiat money from the public and giving your government and ultimately International Banking , namely the IMF/ WB ECB and all the others to control you , as a certain banker once said let whoever run the country as long as I own the money I really run it. No this is your fully propagandized/rammed down your throat/ this is “good for you ” / be with it/ –Globalisation which I thought was stopped by the change in the US administration but the “Donald ” isnt getting it his way he has been forced to employ “Clinton friendly ” government administrators whose policy this is . Its being presented as a young couple hand in hand walking towards a beautiful shining sun while in reality it ends up a large trapdoor of -lets get into debt-its good for you , let “US” control you – We will take care of you -except of coarse for the poor who will get poorer left out of society the “unterklasse ” the shadows you walk by quicker because you dont want to acknowledge them and it upsets your sensibilities –so YES -it will be a “roaring ” success (for some ).


I take it that’s a NO from Duncan and it’s one from me as well. Since I don’t even have a mobile phone at the moment – and I am not missing it – it’s not actually an option. I do, however, bank on-line from time to time and prefer that to queuing up in a branch. But recently I had a number of things to sort out and was glad I could just pop into the branch and receive comprehensive and competent attention.

L Gee says:
22 April 2018

Well. That escalated quickly…


Not for me either. And with the news that Chinese hackers have managed to defeat even two-step authentication on Androids it doesn’t look a good move.



The posting of this article is timely given the latest major hack on mobile phone transactions currently being illustrated in China where phoney mobile masts are used to intercept and relay messages. If your phone has been infected – and this can occur before delivery to you of your new phone, or by your own action, or a message from a friend -then your banking could be seriously endangered.


” the Swearing Trojan has the capability to steal bank credentials and other sensitive information from victim Android devices and to bypass two-factor authentication by replacing a user’s legit SMS app with a malicious version that intercepts incoming SMS messages.
What’s more interesting? To avoid detection of any malicious activity, the Swearing trojan doesn’t connect to any remote command-and-control (C&C) server. Instead, it uses SMS or emails to send stolen data back to the hackers.”

Mobile banking I am afraid is a convenient but ultimately dangerous concept. The banks in their drive to make money are also introducing the 1 day clearing and I suspect this will – surprise surprise also be flawed – at this stage the banks will demand abolition of the cheques – or more to the point simply stop processing them. The wishes of the people and Parliament will be irrelevant.

As one who both studied auditing and worked as a banker I can tell you one of the ways to prevent fraud is to build in delays and checks . There are costs attached to any system. The immediate one for the Banks is to get everything electronic as that is cheaper for them.

As we know from the lending debacle in 2008 Banks are now working in the very short-term with executive bonuses to be considered. As the Banks are unable and unwilling to think of adequate security other than the latest promised secure system then the Government is not much better.

The Consumers Association, publishers of Which?, need to consider that in fact they need to do an in depth look from the consumer side of the fence as to the what-if scenarios that one can foresee and how customers will be affected. Reiterating what Banks put out and pretending everything is rosy and secure is doing subscribers no good whatsoever.

It is almost as though all those Wikileaks about cracking phones and systems does not indicate anything at all and what the NSA can do so can crooks. The story that two US multi-nationals were conned out of $100m over 2 years also shows even without hacking the systems have insufficient drag to allow humans the time to think and consider what is happening.

If we are to be forced towards an electronics only system then the safeguards for the elderly, infirm and incapable, the recovery method were Banks go off-line, and many other aspects need to be sorted NOW so we can be slightly reassured that policies are not being made on the hoof and all with a view to the profit margins.

We also need to consider that we need a parallel system – cash and cheques – which in the event of a major attack on the clearing system or the networks allows people to continue to buy food etc.

I use cash a lot because it is a demonstration of its utility and simplicity and aids budgeting. I do fear an entirely card/electronic system that is inherently vulnerable to outages or manipulation.


The one-day cheque clearing will involve a photographic image of the cheque being transmitted to the drawer’s branch for verification, possibly even the customer ‘posting’ the cheque to their account by sending a picture of it to their bank branch. And what happens to the original? Could it be presented again? I see arguments looming.


Just to illustrate the power of systems that have no delay for safety:


” KfW, which on its website says it’s been awarded the title of the world’s safest bank by magazine Global Finance, isn’t the only lender to suffer a glitch. Deutsche Bank AG’s foreign exchange unit in June 2015 mistakenly sent $6 billion to a hedge fund client and recovered the sum a day later, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.”

You have to laugh otherwise you have to cry. A specialist body screws up for billions and we expect imperfect non-technical humans to master systems and then fine them for going overdrawn. And of course all this interaction based possibly on a single mobile which if lost or damaged presumably is fairly disastrous for the owner.


I prefer to do on-line banking via a proper PC, but I have sometimes used mobile phones to access my bank accounts.

Some of the accounts and features I use require both the pc and the mobile phone to be present, e.g. where security codes are sent via sms messages to my phone and are then typed into the pc.

Hence, I wouldn’t want to do the majority of activities by only using my mobile phone, because that would never be as secure as any system that requires me to be in possession of, and communicating via, both my pc and my phone.