Could these 'free' financial apps be stealing your data?

Autonomous finance
(Image credit: Shutterstock / MK photograp55)

Fintech app users may be getting into more trouble than they expected by using free services that sell on their data, a new report has revealed.

Research from security firm ESET found that fintech apps were more likely to sell on user information than services from other sectors, with 50% of consumers saying they did not know what the app did with their data.

This is despite nearly half (42%) of 10,000 global consumers surveyed by ESET saying they used a free fintech application or platform.

Security risk

The report also found a worrying lack of oversight from consumers when using such apps, with only 31% of people say they read the terms and conditions of a fintech application before downloading it, and only 29% reading the privacy policy.

ESET notes that this is symptomatic of the wider fintech app user base, as it found almost half (48%) of all consumers do not use a VPN, and 42% of consumers said they would log in to their financial applications using a public Wi-Fi network. 

Even the users who claimed to be adept at such services (so-called "Fintech adopters" - those who were  use four or more FinTech applications) showed a number of shocking security lapses, with 7% not having any security software installed on their devices.

“Protecting consumers’ sensitive and financial data has never been more important," noted Ignacio Sbampato, chief business officer at ESET.

"Financial technology has a role to play on the journey to personal and societal economic recovery, and it is vital that FinTech solutions and their users are adequately protected. Our findings about consumers and their attitudes to data security reveal that many people may be vulnerable to cyber risks, and it is our mission to ensure that technology users’ most valuable information is protected with cutting-edge security software.”

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.