How Users' Digital Behavior Plays A Role In Mobile Banking Security

June 28, 2018

User expectations about mobile banking apps have changed drastically over the past decade, and many banks are struggling to balance usability and security. Phones allow users to maintain a certain lifestyle. Therefore understanding how consumers use their phones and handle applications is key for building a mobile banking app that works seamlessly with customers’ lifestyles and specific needs. This article explores the factors contributing to this shift and why banks will want to adapt accordingly.

How Users' Digital Behavior Plays A Role In Mobile Banking Security

It's no secret that mobile devices are taking over our everyday lives. There are over 3.8 billion unique mobile internet users, and 4 out of every 5 internet users owns a mobile device. Mobile traffic accounts for over half of all global Internet traffic and more US citizens own a mobile phone than a traditional computer (84% vs. 80%). Mobile devices aren't just useful – they're transforming the way we live.

Traditional PCs meanwhile are playing a smaller role although still function as the primary device used at home and in the workplace where especially a larger screen and a keyboard are preferable; like entertainment and working. Smartphones, on the other hand, are used for everything from banking, communication, and consuming media to applying for jobs and reading the news. Americans look at their phones 47 to 86 times per day, with 89% checking their phones within an hour of waking up and 81% checking them an hour before going to sleep.

Mobile Devices Are Intertwined with Everyday Life

For many, mobile devices have become an integral part of life. 77% of Americans own a smartphone, and 50% own a tablet. Our personal lives are increasingly interlinking with our digital lives and with 26% of Americans admitting they're online 'almost constantly,' it's becoming harder to separate the two. With so little separation, users still tend to put less weight on protecting their digital identities (staying logged in, sharing personal data, saving passwords and login credentials online), while remaining sensitive and cautious of their public persona. The juxtaposition between a person’s online and offline identity is still being negotiated in the wake of actions against our digital lives challenging mobile users everywhere.

Convenience vs. Privacy

Mobile devices are nothing if not convenient. The ability to talk, bank, work, and shop from the palms of our hands has made us more productive and more efficient. But this convenience comes at a cost: the more we do online, the more we need to share our personal data, and with the number of data breaches increasing annually, keeping our data secure is becoming harder. How do we secure our personal data without compromising convenience?

Unfortunately, many of us default to convenience over privacy. When a group of students was given an amount of Bitcoin and tasked with choosing a virtual wallet to store it in, the student's privacy preferences played little role in which wallet they ultimately chose. In a similar experiment, students were offered free pizza in exchange for three of their friends' email addresses, and an overwhelming majority agreed

"Generally, people don't seem to be willing to take expensive actions or even very small actions to preserve their privacy. Even though, if you ask them, they express frustration, unhappiness or dislike of losing their privacy, they tend not to make choices that correspond to those preferences."

Susan Athey, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

This isn't to say users aren't concerned about privacy. In a study of retail bank customers, only 44% believe their online information is "very secure," and only 32% trust mobile banking. However, the same study shows that ease of use is still the primary driver of app adoption. App developers must find a way to provide both security and convenience without sacrificing one for the other.

Banks Beware of Automated Fraud Attacks

Poor Experiences Reflect on Your Brand

When faced with poor user experience, users don't just blame the app, but also the brand behind it. Imagine that you're going to meet a friend for lunch. While waiting for the train, you remember your credit card bill is almost due. Fortunately, your bank has a mobile app, so you decide to take care of it on the way.

The first thing the app does on opening is try to authenticate you. For security reasons, your bank won't automatically log you in, so you have to enter your password every time. You might have used a particularly complex password to keep your account more secure, so not only do you need to remember your password, but you also need to enter it correctly. It takes a couple of tries, but you finally get past the login page.

Now the app asks you a security question. If you answered multiple security questions when creating your account, it might randomly select a question from the list. This only adds to the number of things you need to remember, and like your password, you have to enter it exactly as you did the first time. By the time you remember and enter the right answer, you've already arrived at the restaurant, and you're ready to throw your phone out the window.

While this story is slightly exaggerated, the user experience plays a huge role in how consumers perceive brands. When WillowTree surveyed mobile users' interactions with different brand apps, 68% deleted the app after just one negative experience; 30% were less likely to recommend the brand to others, and 24% became less loyal to the brand. Improving usability doesn't just help the consumer, but it also increases the value of the brand.


When creating a mobile app, convenience comes first. Consumers expect their devices to support their lifestyles, while still keeping all sensitive data secure. Anything that impedes usability leaves them with a negative experience. As a result, apps need to adapt to their users rather than requiring users to adapt to them. Behavioral biometrics with continuous authentication meets the user’s needs both in terms of convenience and security. The result is a better overall experience with higher user satisfaction.

Want to know how LeumiCard simplifies their mobile app authentication?

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