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Trusting Citibank and the security of your money

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I’ve talked quite a few times here about trust, and how it is one of the key values that underpins every monetary endeavour, and that’s been illustrated by Citibank’s reaction to security problems in their iPhone application.

Let’s be clear here, this was a problem, but not a huge one. User data is stored in a file on the handset, which can be synced to their desktop computer. It would still need to be accessed and read by a third party with access to the handset or the backup files on the host computer, and then other personal information would likely be needed to do anything with it.

Nevertheless Citibank have moved fast to both update the application, alert their customers to the new app (not just relying on the updates in the iPhone App Store, but using a more traditional letter), and reassure users of their Credit Card app that only the checking account app had the issue.

And they made sure that the mainstream press knew they had fixed it and told all their customers that the fix was in. Because while it was important to keep their users money safe and secure, it was just as important to make sure that everyone else knew that they fixed problems fast and everything stayed secure.

Translate this away from the smartphone world for the moment – most people trust banks not to loose their money, even if a bank robbery is attempted. While it might have been true decades ago, a branch bank robbery will not start a run on a bank through lack of confidence. It used to be true though, and that’s the state that banking from your mobile phone is sometimes seen as. That’s why I think Citibank acted fast and loud to the issues.

If you’re in the mobile money space, how do you maintain trust between the customer and you; promote that trust to the world; and use it as a positive marketing message? Hopefully you can answer all three points clearly and quickly.

Picture by Stan Wiechers, cc Flickr