New kitemark for financial apps
A new kitemark to help people identify apps and websites that they can trust with their personal and financial details has been launched.
Barclays' pioneering Pingit mobile payment service and Barclays Mobile Banking are the first products to have been independently assessed in order to be awarded the new BSI (British Standards Institution) kitemark for secure digital transactions.
Although the kitemark is initially being piloted within the banking industry, the BSI envisages that its use will be adopted by a wider range of firms - for example within the entertainment industry.
Producers of websites or apps which want to achieve the kitemark will need to undergo "rigorous" testing to make sure their security controls meet the required standards for handling confidential data, the BSI said.
Those that meet the standards will be able to give customers confidence by displaying the kitemark on their products and in their marketing materials. They will be regularly monitored, and i f security levels are not maintained, the kitemark will be revoked until any flaws are put right.
The move comes as people increasingly turn to the internet to carry out everyday tasks. Three quarters (74%) of Britons now use the internet to do their shopping and just over half (53%) of adults now bank online, according to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS found that around 38 million adults, equating to 76% of the population, go online every day - which is more than double the number of people who did so when comparable data started in 2006
Research carried out among more than 1,000 people for the BSI found that 30% of people do not trust apps as a secure way to manage their money, and 42% have concerns about the security of their personal data when shopping online.
Barclays' Pingit service, which allows people to transfer money as easily as texting and is open to both Barclays and non-Barclays customers, has been downloaded more than three million times since its launch just before the 2012 Olympic Games.
Alex Grant, managing director of fraud prevention at Barclays, said: "Millions of our customers are using mobile and online banking on a daily basis and the kitemark adds reassurance that the platform they are using meet the stringent security requirements.
"Barclays recognise the need to grow consumer trust in using digital platforms and the BSI kitemark is a widely trusted mark to help this. We're proud to be the first business to gain the certification for its mobile banking apps to start with."
A life insurance product from Barclays recently became the first financial product to be awarded a kitemark for "doing what it says on the tin" as part of an initiative to make it easier for consumers to shop around for deals with no unexpected catches.
The move followed a Treasury-commissioned review led by Carol Sergeant, a former chief risk officer at Lloyds Banking Group, which recommended a suite of simple and transparent financial products, which would also include savings accounts.
Maureen Sumner Smith, UK managing director at BSI, said: "More and more of us are now sharing confidential information through online shopping, mobile banking, booking flights, gaming, university applications or interacting with local government. These behavioural changes from the physical to the digital demand the need for even more rigorous security measures.
"Many organisations have good information security processes already established, but by having their systems independently tested on a regular basis as part of the BSI kitemark process, they can clearly demonstrate to customers their commitment to safeguarding information."