Barclays Banking On-The-Go: Not with Root You Don’t, Except You Can

September 2, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

A few months ago, we caught wind of some funny business, some not-so-fair play with a specific British bank’s mobile banking app and a rooted device which tries to use it.  Yes, if you recall, Barclays was in some not-so-good press surrounding the bank’s mobile app not actually working on an Android device with root privileges.

First, here’s what rooting is, so you might understand where Barclays is coming from.  Rooting a device involves adding an app, and therefore the app’s influence into the /system partition of the device, sort of like working at the very base of a device’s file system and structure.  The files and data that are kept there range from the dialer itself to the app you just installed, all the way to some files that can break every app on your phone or tablet, as well as steal information from it.  Now, rooting isn’t all scary and harmful, and that’s only when an app is malicious and gets either unnecessary or ungranted root privileges.  Titanium Backup, sometimes shortened to TiBU, is one of the most popular, but also one of the most secure, root apps available now.  It only will function on a rooted device, and allows users to backup essentially anything on their device, from an app to an app’s data, so it has a lot of power.

Barclays is perhaps worried that someone with root privileges might make a backup of someone’s account and information using their malicious root app and use the information for themselves.  The issue was so prevalent back in fall of 2013 that customers of Barclays created a petition to bring this to the attention of the banking company.  People that root often flash or install a custom version of Android, and go about their newly-refreshed day on a custom ROM.  People over in the CyanogenMod Forums, since rooting is a global thing, not just a British thing,  discussed how to fix it, and it did eventually lead to one website: XDA Developers.

XDA Developers is a website that showcases news and hot topics, as well as hosting a forum globally for almost if not all Android devices, and housing the support communities within those groupings.  The bit of software now synonymous with root is ‘Xposed’, which lets you plug in to a multitude of things, and customize anything if you know how to.  The people on XDA Developers found ways around Barclays’ root-discrimination, as members of communities with time and drive often do, and it should still work today, if you run into the issue yourself.  Head over to the forum thread that contains the original tutorial on how to fix the issue, by the contributor fma965 who should be thanked greatly for the work put in to finding a solution to the problem of Barclays’ restriction. Have you ever tried to use an app on a rooted phone or tablet, and it wouldn’t let you run it?  Did it get fixed, and who by (community of company/developer)?  Do you think that Barclays should permanently fix the issue, and let users root and bank at the same time?  Let us know your thoughts.