In decades past, visiting the bank meant getting in your car and driving to the local branch. Then came the ATM and later agent banking (as well as the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities, SANEF) a banking system that allows customers to access their funds, pay bills and transfer cash to friends and business associates any time of the day. But the next revolution in banking made an even bigger impact, and these days millions of banking customers carry their banks with them wherever they go.
Computer-based online banking is still growing across Africa, but more and more people are using their smartphones as adhoc bank branches. If you are one of those mobile banking customers you need to take safety seriously. The bad guys are always out there, just waiting for an entry point into your account. If you want to protect yourself and your finances, just follow these common sense safety tips.
Start with a strong password. A powerful password is an absolute must if you plan to use online banking (ATMs and agent bankers included), so start with this most basic security measure.
Consider biometric security. Facial recognition, fingerprint security and other biometric technology can provide additional protection for your phone and your bank account.
Download the official banking app. Signing on to your bank through the Internet can be risky on mobile devices, so do your banking through the institution’s official app.
Check your accounts frequently. You only have a limited period of time to report unauthorized activity, so check your statements frequently. Notify the bank immediately if you suspect fraudulent activity.
Beware of wireless networks. Public Wi-Fi may be convenient, but it is rarely safe, especially for online banking. Wait until you are on a secure network before doing any online banking on your phone.
Consider a VPN app. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider downloading and using a VPN app. A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, sets up a secure barrier between your device and the public Internet, so you can do your banking in safety.
Watch out for phishing attacks. Phishing emails often take the form of fake notifications from your bank, so be aware, and stay suspicious. Even if you think the notification is real, contact the bank directly instead of clicking on any embedded links.
Use strong passwords on the banking site – and change them frequently. The password on your phone is a critical first line of defense, but you also need strong security for the banking sites. Changing those passwords frequently provides extra security and peace of mind.
Online banking is convenient, and there is nothing better than carrying a bank branch in your pocket. But before you log on, you need to build safety into the equation. The eight tips listed above can help you bank more safely, so your money stays where you want it.