NatWest chiefs have been forced to temporarily suspend the bank’s much-publicised new mobile app, GetCash, just four months after launch, following fraud concerns. In a smattering of cases, users were tricked into sharing their account details via “phishing” emails, enabling criminals to tap into the service and withdraw funds. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced that it is working with NatWest to boost GetCash security and get the service back up and running.
Launched in June, GetCash enables account holders to access their money without the use of a bank card. In the event of forgetting or losing their plastic, a GetCash user can select the cash sum they require on a smartphone app, which displays a six-digit code – valid for three hours – for keying into an ATM. The machine then dispenses the chosen sum.
NatWest had stressed that the new service would be “really simple and secure” – but the BBC’s Money Box programme uncovered evidence indicating that dozens of customers had been defrauded, with the collective damage running into thousands of pounds. NatWest suspects that phishing emails – which purport to come from banks and ask for the input of personal information – have been used against its customer base.
The bank now plans to refund those affected, and beef up the app’s security features. However, that is unlikely to impress Simon Rose – spokesman for customers’ pressure group Save our Savers – who dismissed the app as a “gimmick”, and added that while some financial institutions were “trying to make banking look sexy … it would be better if they stayed dull and steady”. For Rose, management would be best advised to concentrate on their existing services, rather than adding potentially risky new ones.