More people banking using their mobile devices, comScore says

Oct 28, 2011
Tech

New figures from Internet research firm comScore suggest a big rise in online banking among mobile device users. The data finds that a big number of Americans – almost 32.5 million – have tapped into their bank accounts using a mobile device by the end of the second quarter of 2011, according to a story […]

New figures from Internet research firm comScore suggest a big rise in online banking among mobile device users.

The data finds that a big number of Americans – almost 32.5 million – have tapped into their bank accounts using a mobile device by the end of the second quarter of 2011, according to a story from Fierce Mobile Content. That’s just under 14 percent of all wireless subscribers in the U.S., comScore says, and a 21 percent increase over figures from six months earlier, when only 26.7 mobile subscribers were using their devices to pull up bank account information.

The high numbers are interesting, considering that banking is something that could potentially have a high risk of security threats among mobile users. About a year ago, for example, Citibank reported a big lapse in security with its mobile app, where it was saving personal information in an unprotected file on users’ iOS devices. That file was also copied to users’ computers when they synced with iTunes. Potentially, it made identity theft very possible and very easy.

Yet despite problems such as that one, it seems more users, not less, are trusting their mobile devices with their sensitive information. ComScore found that more users are pulling down all kinds of financial information using their smartphones. The firm’s findings show that 12.7 million subscribers in the U.S. said they’d used a mobile banking app in the month of June 2011, which is a rather huge increase of 45 percent over the same time a year earlier. About 6 million consumers have also used a credit card app in lieu of a credit card, which has seen a 43 percent increase during the last year.

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More than just apps

It’s not just apps, either: 17.5 million smartphone subscribers said they got to their banking information by way of a mobile browser, like Apple’s Safari on its mobile devices. That’s an increase of 14 percent over last year. Conversely, 10.4 million people used mobile browsers to access information about their credit cards, an increase of 17 percent.

That increase suggests that mobile banking and financial information is getting easier and more convenient to access – which is probably good, given all the benefits that those services can offer. But as we’ve seen in the past, accessing sensitive information by way of mobile devices can leave users vulnerable, as well.

Back in March, a study suggested only about 15 percent of mobile users were even aware of mobile software that protected against malware and other security threats, and of those users, a much smaller fraction actually used it. An increase in users passing vulnerable information through their smartphones and other mobile devices, like Apple’s iPad, will undoubtedly lead to an increase in instances of that data being compromised.

Things aren’t as bad for users of Apple’s iOS devices as they can be for those of Google’s Android, given the (somewhat robust) vetting Apple does for its apps. But it’s always a good idea to be careful of the kind of data you send over a mobile device. This is a burgeoning technology that may not always be secure, even when the creators of that technology think it is secure. The best way to protect yourself is to limit the kind of information you make available to your iPhone or iPad.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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