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Consumer Privacy Concerns Persist as Non-Bank Fintech Apps Become More Popular

Nearly one-third of U.S. banking consumers use online and mobile non-bank fintech applications (apps) to help manage their money, according to a new survey conducted by The Clearing House (TCH). Yet, a majority of consumers are concerned about data privacy and want more control over the financial data their apps can access.

“As consumers are increasingly using fintech apps, we need to make sure their financial information is being accessed safely,” said Dave Fortney, executive vice president, product development and management, at The Clearing House. “Banks and fintechs need to work together to develop more secure methods for consumer-controlled data sharing.”

Consumers cited fintech apps for personal financial management and budgeting/saving as the most popular solutions, followed by investment services and robo-advisors as well as lending services.

Among banking consumers who use fintech apps:

  • Two-thirds said they are very or extremely concerned about data privacy when using these apps.
  • About half are uncomfortable sharing payment and financial information with the apps.
  • Nearly a quarter report that they would not use an app that stores their bank account credentials, though that is what many fintech apps do to access information quickly and easily.
  • Fewer than two in five think the fintech apps they use sell their data to third parties or use it to generate user insights.
  • Fifty-six percent would like to control which of their financial accounts and data types can be accessed by any third party.

In addition, after being told that many fintech app providers, as part of their terms and conditions, gain consent from consumers to use their data for purposes other than operating the app itself, nearly half of fintech users said they are now less likely to use these services.

The survey, administered in partnership with A.T. Kearney, engaged 1,500 U.S. banking consumers who use fintech apps to better understand consumer awareness and perceptions of how these third party providers access, collect, use, store and share financial and non-financial data. TCH will use the insights from the research to increase consumer awareness and to continue to advocate for and implement new consumer financial data access controls.

One method to better protect consumer data accessed by fintech apps is through a form of permissioned secure data sharing known as application programming interfaces (APIs), an approach more banks are enabling. TCH will continue to advocate for increased usage of secure APIs that afford greater consumer flexibility and control without requiring consumers to provide their bank log-in credentials.

“We’re committed to identifying better processes, such as APIs, to facilitate safe, consumer-controlled data sharing,” said Fortney. “The Clearing House is currently collaborating with banks, regulators, fintech app providers and technology companies on the topics of secure financial data sharing, controls and data privacy,”

Later this year, TCH will announce additional steps intended to promote the safety, security and transparency of consumer data sharing. TCH is currently working with its member banks to conduct industry education and garner feedback on its work around data privacy.

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