Many banks have custom-designed applications, or apps, for specific smart phones, such as the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. These mobile banking apps often provide faster interfaces and added layers of security, such as password protection, says Bissell.
In addition, apps can provide customers with a more comprehensive banking experience. For example, Schwartz says USAA has an app called Auto Circle, which lets customers shop for auto loans and insurance for new vehicles from their mobile devices. "It helps simplify banking so that it's absolutely easy and intuitive," says Schwartz.
If a customer misplaces a smart phone that had a banking app downloaded, he should alert his bank and phone company as soon as possible so the service can be deactivated, says Watson.
However, the phone's owner would still have some protection if a stranger found the device. The information someone could get from the device would likely be no more than what's on an ATM receipt, says Watson. "It's not something that other people can take action on," she says.
Every bank is different; so before downloading an app, make sure you understand what security features your institution offers.