Is mobile banking safer than going to your local branch?


A new Federal Reserve survey finds one in five Americans use mobile phone for banking. My phone runs four apps from the discount broker I use, the mutual fund company I use and a couple from the two credit unions I use.

I do it without fear. But that makes me unusual. Two-thirds of Americans are in doubt about the safety of mobile banking. There is a complete lack of trust because of all the data breaches and all the rest.

I was talking with a fellow talk show host who still does paper checks and goes to banks to do transactions and the whole nine yards. He doesn’t do anything “modern” when it comes to managing his finances because he doesn’t trust it.

But let’s talk about trust. When you go to a bank, you hand a check with your transit numbers to a stranger behind the teller desk. If that teller isn’t honest, they have license to take as much money as they want because they have the transit numbers from your account.

So we fear the modern, but the old way has potentially more risk.

To date, there’s been no meaningful and significant breach of mobile banking apps. It doesn’t mean there won’t be. But they were created in an era when everyone’s so freaked out about data breaches already. So they may be safer than web-based browsing when it comes to doing banking because they were engineered in a climate of fear.

Meanwhile, I read something in Consumer Reports notes that in the next few years, mobile payments may become so common that we’ll all go cashless. For example, you may go out to dine and find you’ll pay with a smart phone instead of plastic or cash.

So the mobile platform will be more and more central to our lives. As to whether mobile payments from a phone will be safe, that I’m still reserving judgment on because the law hasn’t caught up with protections for you.

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