Sucheta Dalal :Mobile banking: A safe way to transact?
Sucheta Dalal

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Mobile banking: A safe way to transact?  

October 2, 2009


Given the convenience and the number of mobile phone users in India, mobile banking is bound to pick up. Experts believe the two simple precautions for safe transactions through a mobile phone are secrecy and protection of mPIN and mobile number.  But there are many more details about mobile banking that you ought to know.
Currently, there are three modes of transactions—Short Messaging Service (SMS), Client Applications and Mobile Web. Banks offering mobile banking tie up with various mobile providers to offer the back-end solutions. PayMate is a mobile service provider offering back-end solutions to 24 leading banks and has seen a nearly 100% rise in subscribers since its inception.
In India SMS transactions are the most popular for conducting basic bank transactions. According to Ajay Adiseshann, founder and managing director, PayMate, “All basic banking transactions such as balance information, cheque book request etc can be accomplished via SMS or on mobile-based applications that some banks use.”  
Due to the use of a two-factor authentication process of mobile number and mPIN authentication over Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the risks involved in using mobile banking are lower than other modes of transactions. In mobile banking there is enhanced risk control when a consumer enrols for this facility he/she provides the mobile number through which the transactions have to be carried out.
mPIN is mobile PIN which works in the same manner as in the case of credit and ATM cards which is provided by the banks.  To carry out a transaction the person has to provide his mPIN. And hence the secrecy of the mPIN is of the utmost importance and a subscriber to mobile banking must pay extra attention to it. The assuring factor according to Mr Adiseshann is that, “The mPIN is never saved in any form on the handset or in any application and no financial details are divulged during the transaction process.”
But a customer shouldn’t save the mPIN in any manner on his/her mobile phone or share the same or have any sensitive information on the device. A word of caution from, “Be aware of scammers sending SMS messages purportedly from your bank, requesting your personal identification number, or PIN; account number or other information. Any such request for information is certainly fraudulent. To make it easier to determine if the text messages are from your bank are authentic, add the bank's short code to your contact list under the bank's name.” 
Banks associate the accounts of the holder with the mobile number provided to the bank and hence it becomes very important to notify the change of number. The most important precautions for a customer according to Mr Adiseshann are to “ensure secrecy of his/her mPIN used for transaction authorisation and to update the bank if he/she wishes to change the mobile number linked to the bank account.” If the customer loses his mobile phone, then the same must be notified to banks for stopping the updates and to de-link the number from the account.
These are the measures customers must carry out to protect their money and for convenient transactions: -
1. Do not divulge the mPIN to anyone or save it in any form on your phone
2. Ensure the bank is informed if there is any change in your mobile number and the account is linked to the new number
3. Set the phone to require a password to power on the handset or awake it from sleep mode
4. Notify the change of number to the bank to update the information. - Aditya Kshirsagar [email protected]

-- Sucheta Dalal