A long time has passed since the phone in your back pocket was merely a phone. It’s an alarm clock, personal assistant, and epic time waster. Along with all the other side gigs it pulls off, your smartphone now takes on the role of your digital banker. The mobile wallet is an easy way to pay for your kids’ McHappy Meals or your grown-up Starbucks lattes — just as it’s a convenient way to transfer funds, apply for a loan, or manage your budget. As the tasks your mobile wallet expands at the same rate as retailers accepting digital payments increase, you’ll be using your smartphone as a financial tool a lot more often.
You need to make sure it’s safe every time you pull it out of your back pocket. Here are two quick and simple ways you can protect your mobile wallet.
Download from reliable, credible sources
While still in its infancy in the U.S., the global industry of financial apps is growing exponentially. This growth will undoubtedly result in faster apps that solve significant issues affecting personal finances. They’ll be examples of fine coding art that promise the best and most protected services at your fingertips. The opposite will also be true. As the pool of apps grows, so will the number of apps with glitchy services that leave your personal information open to hackers.
Whether you’re creating your mobile wallet now or in the future, it’s up to you to sort through the riff-raff. You need to do some research before you download an app to make sure the company will protect you from data theft. You can confirm your chosen app has the right protection by using the following tips:
- Download from the Google Play Store or App Store: Both these platforms perform their own security screening to eliminate potentially malicious apps. You should only download from these sources when you’re building your mobile wallet.
- Review the app’s permissions: You can control what kind of data an app has access to by reading and accepting the permissions. Typically, a financial app will want access to your storage and media files, but it’s a good idea to check that it doesn’t require any unusual permissions, like access to your contact list or social streams.
Don’t skip multi-factor authentication
A basic login is fine for your Instagram account, but your financial data needs more security than a PIN can offer when you apply for an online payday loan. Even the most robust password (which contains a random mix of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and special symbols) isn’t enough when it comes to your mobile wallet.
A password is just one aspect of your mobile security. Security experts suggest you enable multi-factor authentication to protect your phone. An average multi-factor authentication process includes the following:
- Your private password, PIN, or special lock pattern. This is typically only something you know.
- Your phone itself. Once you open the app with your password, you’ll prompt the service to text you a randomized token to your phone. You’ll have to present this token to enable its services.
- Your biometric data. This information gets collected through your phone’s fingerprint scanner or the iPhone X’s new Face ID.
Together, these factors combine something only you should know, something only you should own, and only something you are. While it’s possible a criminal could hack your password or steal your smartphone, the likelihood they can steal both and use your biometric data is incredibly low.
A low security risk is what anyone using a mobile wallet wants, especially as we enter an age when we’ll be relying on them more often than ever before. If you expect to join the millions of others building their mobile wallets, don’t scoff at security. When you take the appropriate steps, you can keep your financial security safe however you decide to use your phone.
Be cautious of the apps you download and choose your security carefully. Together, these two tips can save you from a potential hack — saving you a lot of time, money, and frustration!