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New Research Reveals Consumers Remain Uninformed of Fintech App Data Collection Practices

New York – Today, The Clearing House (TCH) released its 2021 Consumer Survey: Data Privacy and Financial App Usage that shows consumers who are using digital banking and fintech apps on a regular basis to manage their finances want greater disclosure and control over their personal financial data, but know little about fintechs’ data collection, management, and sharing practices. 

In particular, 2021 survey findings show that more than three-quarters of respondents were largely unaware that fintech apps:

  • Commonly use third-party providers to gather users’ financial data (80%) 
  • Can sell personal data to other parties for marketing, research, and other purposes (76%)
  • Retain access to information even after the app is deleted (77%)
  • Regularly access personal data even when the app is closed or deleted (78%)
  • Typically assume no responsibility if a security breach compromises consumer data (80%)

In each of these areas, a majority of consumers also expressed discomfort with fintech app data practices. In fact, majorities reported that they would prefer increased disclosure from fintech apps as well as greater control over their data, including:

  • Clear disclosure of what data third parties have access to
  • Clear explanations of possible risks associated with using the app
  • Clear disclosure of what access is granted by apps’ terms and conditions
  • Control over which financial accounts and what kind of data can be accessed by a third party
  • Requiring explicit consent to every third party that seeks to access personal data
  • An ability to set permissions within a fintech app

The survey also shows that one in three fintech app users have increased their usage since the start of the pandemic, with growing interest in investment services and robo-advisors. Yet, 77% of consumers admit to not reading the lengthy terms and conditions and those who do read them generally report a lack confidence in their understanding.

“More consumers are using financial apps, but they’re still in the dark about how their data is used, accessed, and stored,” said Ben Isaacson, senior vice president of product strategy at TCH. "Once again, these numbers confirm that people want a better understanding about these practices and they want a greater say in how their personal and financial data are used.”

The poll was conducted as part of TCH’s Connected Banking initiative, an ongoing effort that seeks to enable transmittal of bank-held financial data to fintechs in a more secure way, while improving the customers’ control over their financial data and transparency over the permissioned use of their data.

TCH initially fielded the consumer survey in 2018 and released an update in 2019. Hall & Partners conducted the 2021 survey on behalf of TCH between September 9 and September 27, 2021. The objective was to get a fresh take on what consumers are feeling in 2021 and dive deeper into their perceptions about how fintech apps access, use, store, and share their data. It was conducted online and consisted of a total sample of 4,019 U.S. banking consumers: 2,013 financial app users and 2,006 non-financial app users.

Download the full report here.

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About The Clearing House
The Clearing House operates U.S-based payments networks that clear and settle more than $2 trillion each day through wire, ACH, check image, and real-time payments. It is the nation’s most experienced payments company, with a long track record of providing secure and reliable systems, payments innovation, and strategic thought leadership to financial institutions. Most recently, The Clearing House has revolutionized U.S. payments infrastructure with the RTP® network, which supports the immediate clearing and settlement of payments, along with the ability to exchange related payment information across the same secure channel. These RTP capabilities enable all financial institutions to offer safer, faster, and smarter digital transaction services for their corporate and retail customers. Learn more at www.theclearinghouse.org.

Media Contact 

Greg MacSweeney
The Clearing House
212-612-9282
greg.macsweeney@theclearinghouse.org

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