/ Money, Technology

Banking on the move… eventually

There’s a digital revolution going on in banking, with our mobile phones and tablets at the core. Have you enthusiastically thrown yourself into mobile banking, or are you still cautious?

At a recent conference about the future of mobile banking, I was surrounded by people on their iPhones, Blackberrys and iPads. The consensus seemed to be that all of our money management will be conducted on our phones before long.

The case for embracing mobile banking seems compelling, with banks, card issuers, network providers and retailers all wanting to get involved. One presenter shared the slightly disturbing fact that there are now 6.6bn mobile phone contracts worldwide, while only 4bn people have a toothbrush.

But our own research shows that, for the moment, people are reluctant to embrace mobile banking – at least until perceived security concerns have been ironed out.

Reluctance to start mobile banking

More than 80% of Which? members say they’re worried that this technology will leave them at a greater risk of fraud. Commenter William told us on our Conversation about Barclays’ mobile payment app Pingit:

‘I for one won’t be making use it and will eagerly await the first news story of how people mysteriously lose up to £300 a time all because banks and phone companies have no idea of what security is.’

Why the reluctance? It may be that we’re ‘slow adopters’ compared to the US, or even countries such as Kenya, where there are already 17m mobile banking accounts that allow people to transfer money to each other by simply sending a text. In the UK, similar services – such as Barclays’ Pingit and the O2 Wallet – are only just launching.

We recently tested all of the mobile banking services that are out there at the moment, and found that they really are a mixed bag. Barclays and First Direct’s mobile apps did well, but the options from HSBC and Santander were more difficult to use.

Still, as more of us arm ourselves with smartphones, there’s a real incentive for banks to finesse their services and make mobile banking simpler than ever. An attitude shift from potential users and technological advances should see mobile banking really get going.


Those worried about security tend to know little about the security methods and protocols being used. Those who do understand the security embrace the technology. It’s mainly the technophobes who stay away from it, incorrectly citing security concerns as an excuse.

I was disappointed that Barclays were so far behind the competition in launching a mobile banking app, but it was worth the wait. Like their online banking, the functionality of their mobile app is way ahead of the competition.

It took me many years to use online banking because of security concerns. What convinced me to move from telephone banking was when NatWest refunded a friend after money was removed from his account, coupled with much simpler terms and conditions.

Phones and tablets are too much like toys for me to consider using them for financial transactions. With a computer I have anti-virus software, a firewall and would not download any software unless I was fairly sure that it was from a reliable source. With phones and tablets we download all sorts of apps without giving much thought about whether they could contain malware. Let’s keep tools and toys separate and not expect the banks to offer refunds unless the user behaves sensibly.

nfh – I am not in favour and I am not a technophobe so I feel slightly insulted. Anyone who follows the banking industry and reads the IT press might be aware that nothing is idiot-proof, and that electricity and connection are requirements for most of this technology.

Each day I read the “Mobile Commerce Daily” so I am probably better informed than most on what is happening in this area and how much news is being generated. Of course for the banks, and other intermediaries, and the vendor there is a lot to be gained in terms of cost savings. huge amounts will be saved but I suspect the customer will see none of this and in fact be hostage to either a card or phone which is losable, relatively easy to damage, and reliant on third parties to work.

Compare that to a coin or note which is robust, usable everywhere, and does not require a third party in the transaction, and is not reliant on power. No contest really then. Nat West has so ably demonstrated to the country at large what it is like to be a customer without access to your money.

Can anyone cite a genuinely valid security issue with the way that the banks have implemented mobile banking? I still maintain that technophobes voice security concerns without being able to cite one specifically.

Please feel free to address the redundancy issue of total reliance on electronic banking and the inability of banks to guarantee service. And then there is the problem with batteries:

Just taking security , as you currently understand it, does not cover the big picture. and whilst concentrating on security is I think myopic perhaps these articles on security bears reading:
or more immediately pertinent

Incidentally I am not clear whether you are referring to security in respect of NFC only or mobile phone transactions. The wiki article is useful in outlining NFC and the problem areas.

The links you have posted are about NFC, which I agree does have some security holes. However, this conversation is about mobile banking apps, with no mention of NFC. Please stay on topic and instead discuss NFC in one of the many other Which conversations that cover that topic.

From the Which? guide to mobile payments:

“What are mobile payments?

Mobile payments allow you to use your mobile phone (which usually must be a smartphone) to send or authorise payments from your bank account. This technology enables you to carry out bank-to-bank transfers using just your mobile phone details (through Barclays Pingit and O2 Wallet, for example) or to make purchases by tapping your phone against a special reader.”

So I believe that Which? at least includes NFC as part of the term mobile payments.

As for inter-acount transfers that is very new technology and I have absolutely no-doubt that it is crackable and this will become evident within 3 years. However what is still unanswered is the effect on the economy if the RBS/Nat West debacle should re-occur, perhaps longer, perhaps more banks when the majority and shops have been lulled into believing there is no downside.

Anyway here is an article pointing out the current downsides of the Barclay Pingit
Anyway I trust other readers will chime in with their views on the safety or otherwise, and of course the spam side of the app.

Remember banks only do these things for their own profit, and the only way they can sell them to consumers is because apparently they fill a much needed desire of the public – massaged by media coverage and the early adopters.

I have a NatWest account and have had for about 45 years, yes I’m that old. I use online banking quite often, pay all my bills through it and pay for most things by either debit or credit card. I find their login process safe, you only enter part of a 4 digit code and part of the password and it’s safer (in my opinion than giving someone your debit card details over the phone). Their smartphone app is great, you see a balance immediately, a record of your recent transactions, the ability to pay bills and if you want to use a cash machine it will give you a code to use within a couple of hours ( if you for some reason do not have your card) You can even give this code to someone else, a son or daughter who may be stranded. All in all I’m quite impressed. Mind you I take great care of the phone, there is a lot of information about me on it.

I’m very happy to be able to keep in touch with my account with ease. I can monitor my money better.


Well worth reading in terms of where retailers would like to go. Cash-banned shopping could be the future!

I was speaking to a friend yesterday and he reported chaos at the Aldi in East Grinstead yesterday evening when their link to their card clearer Nationwide or either servers went down. Imagine a packed store where suddenly only cash works and you are not carrying enough to pay for your trolley load.

I always carry cash and cards. If cards work you still have the emergency cash stash for the future. Planning for potential problems is useful.


“The rootkit, which could be bundled with an app and is said to be undetectable by anti-virus packages, would allow an attacker to replace a smartphone’s browser with a version that logs key strokes to capture bank card data and uploads them to a hacker-controlled website. The malign technology can hide or replace any or all of the apps on a smartphone, as illustrated in this video:”

I hope the original poster can still read this and understand my view is not technophobic but realistic.

And slightly more old-fashioned electronics based technology in common use where security is not what it is/was touted to be:

BBC Radio 4
” 26 July 2012 Last updated at 13:54 Help

Many people use bank cards in Chip and Pin terminals every day and expect them to be secure. But, at a presentation at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, UK-based researchers have demonstrated how criminals can use a card loaded with malicious software to take control of some widely used terminals.

World At One presenter Martha Kearney hears from reporter Chris Vallance how fraudsters might be able to use fake cards to potentially authorise payments or harvest PIN and card numbers.”

I like the comment from that William guy in your post. Seems he is way ahead of the curve about how banks have on idea. And that’s without knowing much about security himself. Lucky guess? Oh no.

Natwest and RBS customers are affected, see ..

I believe it may get a mention on Watchdog tonight 8pm BBC1

Seems there’s more and more backing for my stance as the weeks roll on. …