The decision to demonetise Rs.500 and Rs.1000 bank notes was unexpected to say the least and many believe it to be the cornerstone of the Government’s strategy to transform India into a cashless economy. With cash in short supply, it is only natural that cashless transaction methods such as mobile wallets have emerged as one of the key beneficiaries of India’s demonetisation drive.
However, the rapid increase in usage of e-wallets has led to some concerns regarding the safety of these transactions and whether they are more prone to hacking than conventional cashless payment options such as debit and credit cards. Though the safety debate is not going away any time soon, in the following sections, we will discuss some steps that you can take as a mobile wallet user to keep your smartphone and its wallet information secure.
As with any sort of online transactions, whether it is Net banking or credit/debit transactions, cyber fraud is a possibility unless you take certain steps to prevent it. All the credit card and net-banking transactions use two-factor authentication security, but at present mobile wallets do not feature this level of security thus proactive action on your part would be more important.
The following are some important points to keep in mind while using an e-wallet:
Install antivirus/malware scanner on your mobile
When installed, an antivirus/malware scanner, will scan any new apps which you download on your phone and flag them if these new apps are potential malware or ask for any special permission. These scanners also ensure that executable files from untrustworthy sources are not downloaded or installed on your mobile phone without your permission. Doing this would keep your mobile wallet secure from any rogue apps which may potentially steal your wallet credentials.
Download Apps only from trusted sources
Ensure that the source from where you are downloading the mobile wallet software as well as any other phone apps is authentic. Authorised app stores such as Google Play store, Apple iTunes, Windows App store, etc. should be you first and only choice for downloading new apps on your phone. These apps undergo extensive tests and feature a much higher level of security as compared to less trustworthy sources.
Read the fine print
It is always good practice to go through the end-user agreement provided with an app to understand the type of information you would be sharing with the software provider, developer and other third-parties. Carefully read instructions about the type of transactions, restrictions on payment limits, who the app developer will share your information with etc. before installing and using any app including m wallet applications. This way you can reduce the chances of unpleasant surprises at a later date.
Maintain confidentiality of your e-wallet
Avoid sharing your e-wallet account’s credentials with others. Don’t give the OTP to a third party especially if you have not made any transactions from your end. The balance in your m wallet is no different from the credit limit/available balance on your credit or debit card, so maintain the confidentiality of your account information at all times.
Limit your wallet top-ups
It is best practice to limit how much money you are adding to your wallet because it limits the losses you might incur through misuse. Also periodically check your mobile wallet statement to ensure that that hackers are not siphoning off your wallet balance through small transactions. In case you find transactions that you did not make, take the matter up with the m wallet provider to get the issue resolved.
Say no to public Wi-Fi
Avoid using public Wi-Fi as the hackers can snoop into the connection and steal your wallet credentials as well as other personal data. It is in fact a good idea to keep your phone/computer’s Wi-Fi adapter off unless you are using a trusted Wi-Fi hotspot. The same logic applies to Bluetooth connections, keep all these connections off unless you are using them.
Do Your Research
Don’t opt for a mobile wallet or app just because it promises great cash back deals. Do your due diligence regarding legitimacy of the software and its track record and acceptance before you install it into your smart phone. After all, it is better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to money.
Don’t Auto-save card details
To ensure the safety of your money and decrease the possibility of fraudulent transactions, ensure that you do not auto-save your card details on every wallet/online transaction. Saving your card details online increases the risk of theft or fraudulent transactions if the security of the e wallet network is breached.
In conclusion, it must be pointed out that life is not without its risk and the convenience of emerging technologies like m wallets are sure to feature a few growing pains. That said, it is at least partly up to the user to ensure that the money in their wallet is safe and the above actions will help achieve that end.