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Balancing Convenience and Security: Navigating the Potential of Super Apps

iStock 1130294493 - Global Banking | Finance

Balancing Convenience and Security: Navigating the Potential of Super Apps

Picture14262024 - Global Banking | FinanceBy Appdome’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Roeckl

The rise of mobile “Super Apps” gives financial services organisations an unprecedented opportunity to consolidate brand power and extend the business into new consumer offerings. It’s also a boon for consumer behaviour, promising unmatched convenience by integrating diverse services like banking, messaging, and e-commerce into a unified platform.

Revolut‘s planned venture into telecoms further underscores the growing influence and versatility of Super Apps. Other industries are following this path, including transportation (Uber), commerce (Amazon and Walmart), and even entertainment (Spotify), signalling a significant shift in the industry. However, as convenience expands, so does the realm of cybersecurity challenges.

The shift to mobile

The Covid-19 pandemic forever changed the digital landscape, laying waste to traditional bank branches and access via a desktop web browser. Mobile is now king of all digital transaction, creating new opportunities for mobile brands. With the broad adoption of mobile, especially with traditional bank branch continuing to close, cybercriminals are increasingly looking at mobile as their main attack vector. Just looking fraud alone, about 580 million was lost to fraud in the first half was lost to fraud in the first half of 2023 alone, highlighting the gravity of this security concern. alone, highlighting the gravity of this security concern.

The diversity and complexity of new attacks and threats against mobile apps, sadly, is staggering. Gone are the days when protection against fraud and attacks were the responsibility of the mobile consumer. The responsibility has moved squarely with the mobile brand to protect their mobile end users.  A major security event will destroy a brand – costing millions to remediate and millions more to regain consumer trust.

As such, for financial service organisations wanting to invest in a Super App they must ensure it coincides with security measures that are properly implemented. This means asking themselves if there is a clear plan to oversee and track the integration of security measures throughout the development process. Determine whether there are systems in place to monitor potential real-time security threat. And finally, ensure the implementation of security measures are seamlessly integrated into the development and deployment process.

Enter the era of Super Apps

The emergence of Super Apps introduces a new dimension to these risks. Super Apps host vast reservoirs of data and provide developers with the ability to integrate multiple services, such as bill payments, loan applications, digital wallets, wealth management, and even being able to purchase insurance.

The challenge is that integration opens new doors to threats and attacks. Incorporating third-party components into Super Apps, coupled with extensive data storage, escalates the risk of security attacks. Overlooking these risks can lead to non-compliance with forthcoming regulations such as the NIS2 Directive. Initially designed for network and information systems, the directive has been extended to include mobile devices, establishing requirements for security measures, incident reporting, risk management, and cooperation.

Unlike standalone apps, where developers have total control over workflows, Super Apps amalgamate functionalities from diverse providers. This complex integration expands the app’s vulnerability surface, complicating efforts to bolster its defences against potential threats.

Further complications and solutions

Financial institutions managing vast amounts of sensitive data face heightened risks of data leakage due to insecure storage or misconfigurations. Inadequate encryption and weak jailbreak/root detection mechanisms further expose vulnerabilities, enabling malicious actors to exploit security loopholes and compromise user data.

Given the evolving nature of cyber threats, a comprehensive security framework starting with data protection and anti-debugging measures is imperative within financial services. Robust fraud and malware prevention mechanisms are equally essential to maintaining user trust in Super Apps that handle sensitive financial and transaction information.

Encouraging collaboration and looking ahead

Successful defence of standalone financial services apps – and the new generation of Super Apps – require prioritisation of mobile app defence. Crucially, it starts with a system that empowers collaboration between the two teams on the front lines of app development and defence: mobile app developers and cybersecurity teams.

By adopting agile security measures, embracing DevSecOps practices and putting in systems that automate mobile app security, developers can effectively mitigate risks and ensure regulatory compliance throughout the app lifecycle. This approach streamlines security integration at every development phase, enhancing overall app security. Consolidating multiple services into a cohesive platform promotes customer loyalty and drives engagement for online banking apps.

Despite facing inherent security challenges, Super Apps are poised to revolutionise consumer interactions with banking service providers. They offer unparalleled convenience and personalised experiences, driving their adoption among users.

However, balancing convenience and security remains paramount to safeguarding user trust and preserving business reputation while mitigating cyber threats. As digital banking continues to evolve and Super App usage grows, maintaining a robust security infrastructure and staying proactive in addressing emerging challenges will be essential for long-term success.

Chris Roeckl is Chief Product Officer at mobile app defence company Appdome.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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