Money transfer apps
Peer-to-peer payment services like Venmo, Paypal and Square Cash make transferring and requesting funds simple—important, since fewer and fewer people carry cash. All three apps comply with the same security standards upheld by Visa and MasterCard, so your digital transfers are technically as safe as physical debit or credit card transactions.
These applications are device-specific, but they all operate on the same principle. Through a process called tokenization, your actual credit card information is replaced with a series of random numbers. After verifying your ID (usually via fingerprint or passcode), your phone generates a one-time code that’s sent to your bank and approved in real-time. Since the merchant never truly receives your confidential card information, the data is useless if it falls into the hands of hackers.
Security secret weapon: 2FA
Most major mobile pay applications leverage two-factor authentication (2FA) for an extra layer of security. As the name suggests, two-factor authentication requires two different types of credentials to complete an action. For example, in addition to your normal password, you may have to input a temporary code or a finger print scan. 2FA isn’t hack-proof, but it’s more difficult for cyber criminals to steal multiple credentials than to steal just one.
Four tips for extra protection
Most money transfer apps and mobile wallets are backed by advanced security features. But no payment method protects your account 100%—not even the plastic cards in your physical wallet. Online transactions, too, are only as safe as you make them. Luckily, we’ve got four ways to make them even more secure:
Follow password best practices
Make sure you’re using strong passwords for your apps and accounts. These basic rules should get you started:
- Include a variety of special characters, capital letters and numbers.
- Create a unique password for each account.
- Store your passwords somewhere safe. (A post-it-note on your desk doesn’t count.)
If you’re looking for a complete guide, check out these tips from Google.
Have a backup plan
Register your phone with a device manager like Find My iPhone. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you’ll be able to remotely erase important data.
Watch network security
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient, but their lax security requirements make users an easy target for hackers. Avoid making transactions or typing in passwords over public Wi-Fi. There’s no guarantee that a data miner is snooping on your web traffic, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Give your apps a background check
Vet mobile payment apps before you download them. Review their security measures and steer clear of the ones that don’t use two-factor authentication. Unsure what’s considered safe? Read up on security guidelines established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council.
Mobile pay checks out.
Convenient? Check. Versatile? Check. Secure? Check. Peer-to-peer payment apps and mobile wallets are programmed with security in mind, and safety measures will only continue to improve over time. As long as you keep tabs on your transactions, mobile pay is a pretty safe bet.