Nearly 60 percent of smartphone owners have used their device to bank online, according to new data collected by the Pew Research Center. Small-business owners can leverage on-the-go banking or cloud-based accounting systems that can be accessed on a mobile device to gain operational efficiencies and lower overhead costs, but the need to keep financial information secure is as critical as ever. Here are six mobile money tips to remember:
Confirm your Wi-Fi connection before you access data. Wi-Fi hotspots that are available in public places like airports, coffee shops, and parks make it convenient to tend to business money matters when you’re on the go — but not all Wi-Fi connections are secure. Avoid accessing your personal or business financial accounts through any connection other than a private, password-protected Wi-Fi. If you accept mobile payments from customers at off-site events like trade shows, festivals or farmer’s markets, choose a mobile payment provider that offers an “offline” mode. With it, you can postpone processing the customer’s payment until you’re able to access a private Wi-Fi connection you trust.
Don’t assume that your mobile browser is secure. Cloud-based accounting systems can be accessed on your mobile device to ensure that you remain timely in managing important financial tasks like payroll and tax obligations, but you must take precautions to keep your business data secure. Confirm that the website in your mobile browser begins with the https:// designation before signing in. Check periodically to confirm it hasn’t “timed out,” particularly if you use the site for several minutes, or become interrupted midway through a transaction.
Remote deposits can save you money. Many financial institutions now offer account holders the option to deposit checks electronically, using the bank or credit union’s secure mobile app in tandem with the camera feature on a smartphone or tablet. Though the service can eliminate the time and fuel costs associated with driving to a bank to deposit checks, remember that all checks contain sensitive account information. Update passwords to gain entrance into your mobile device and its apps regularly to ensure that such data isn’t easily obtained if your phone is lost or stolen.
Treat your mobile device like a computer. Convenient as mobile money management may be, a mobile device is essentially a tiny computer that travels in your pocket. The level of security it offers is contingent on the preventative measures you take to protect it from malware and cybercriminals. Install the latest versions of your mobile device’s operating system software as soon as it’s released for download (despite the amount of time it takes to install, or the inconvenience it presents to your business day). Remember that while some software updates are made to enhance non-essential features like speed, functionality and usability, they often include “patches” to safeguard vulnerabilities detected in the software.
Open email cautiously. In 2014, MarketingLand reported that more than 65 percent of emails are opened on a mobile device. A crowded email inbox makes it all too easy to mistakenly open emails fraudulently sent by cybercriminals posing as the vendors and financial institutions with whom you commonly communicate. Be mindful of clicking on any links in emails that you check on your mobile device, which may contain mobile malware.
Plan for a lost device. In an age where consumers rely on mobile devices for most of their waking hours, it’s easy to forget how fast your device could be out of reach. Yet, the portability that makes smartphones and tablets so attractive can inherently increase your business’s risk. Plan for how you will respond if you or a member of your staff who uses his/her device for business loses it. Invest in reputable apps that allow you to disable the device immediately from off-site locations, and change account passwords and account numbers that may be accessible from your mobile browser.
Mobile devices make it easy to manage your money at any time and from any location, but you can’t let your guard down entirely. Keep your device as secure as you would a laptop, and be aware of your surroundings (physically and virtually) when you input and access sensitive account information.
Kristen Gramigna, Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.