For many of us, it’s all about convenience. We want to be able to access our bank accounts from anywhere – and initiate transactions. Thanks to the rise of the smart phone, this is possible. You can use your smart phone (or your tablet computer) to perform a number of tasks, including banking. As long as you are on a secure network, this can be a great way to keep up with your finances, no matter where you are. Sure, you’ve probably heard about personal finance apps like Mint.com. But there are plenty of other options available – many of them with features that allow you to directly access your checking account or savings account in a way that some personal finance apps don’t. Here are some cool banking apps for your smart phone:
This is a cool banking and finance app available for Android or iPhone, and that also works as a web application on your computer. Pageonce is a great resource for those who want to organize and access multiple accounts. You can even add billing accounts, such as those for your utilities, to help you keep track of payments, dates and other useful information. You can even keep track of your frequent flier miles and access your Netflix account. It goes without saying that you can organize bank account and credit card information. You can even keep up with your investment accounts. This is one of the most effective all in one banking and financial apps out there.
As you might imagine, PayPal has a mobile app that can help you manage the PayPal end of your banking system. While PayPal is mostly, well, PayPal, the mobile version does have a really cool feature, called “Bump. If you want to Bump, it makes payment transactions easy. If you both parties have the app, you can easily trade payment by bumping your smart phones together. This is useful for those who make in-person transactions for the purpose of small business. I see this as something that could be quite useful at art fairs and the like.
The PayPal app also allows you to track your budget, and set reminders for paying bills. It’s not as cools as Pageonce, but the Bump feature is certainly something in PayPal’s favor.
USAA Mobile Banking
For those with an account as USAA, this is an awesome banking app. USAA has been ahead of the curve when it comes to technology for quite sometime, so it’s little surprise that the financial institution offers a great mobile banking app. You can access your USAA accounts quite easily, whether you are looking at loans, bank accounts, insurance accounts or investing accounts (you can even make trades from your USAA investment account with the app). It is even possible to make mobile deposits with an image of a check. If you bank with USAA, and have this app, you may never actually have to physically visit the bank again.
Two Wallet Applications
Recently, Google unveiled its wallet application for mobile devices. It makes use of near field communication (NFC) technology to initiate payment at terminals that are equipped for NFC. All you have to do is tap the terminal, or wave your phone in proximity to the terminal. While this is all very interesting, there are definite limits to Google’s wallet. First of all, it only works with certain Citibank credit cards. So, if you don’t to apply for a Citibank card you have to load up a Google prepaid card with funds. (At least you can use any credit card to load up your Google prepaid card.) You can also store loyalty card information and coupons using the Google wallet.
Visa, though, ended up being miffed. This is because Visa announced – before Google’s launch of its wallet – that it is rolling out its own wallet in the fall. While Google may have come first out of the gate, the Visa digital wallet application promises to be a much cooler, and a more complete, digital wallet. The Visa wallet will allow you to store all of your payment information, and then quickly choose which credit or debit card you would like to use before you pay. No need to limit yourself to a Citibank card or to some prepaid card. Visa claims that you will even be able to store third-party payment information, like PayPal, for use. Person to person payment transactions are also supposed to be available with the Visa wallet. Participating banks will allow you to send or receive money, even from someone at a different bank.
So far, these wallet systems are more about paying than about banking, but the integration of account access and other banking functions is probably not too far in the future.
The Future of Banking and Transactions
It’s clear, as smart phones and tablet computers gain wider acceptance, that more options will become available for paying. The rise of these smarter mobile devices is already consolidating the gadgets we carry. Who needs a separate GPS device, or a digital camera when you have a smart phone? You can take high quality snapshots with your mobile device, and get directions almost anywhere. Now, it appears that you may no longer need to carry a wallet around – or remember account numbers.
Of course, with so much consolidation (especially with financial information involved), it will become important for security to be stepped up. If you ever do decide to digitize your wallet, or engage in online banking from your smart phone, you will need to make sure that you take proper security precautions. Make sure your device, and the network you are using, are secure. Additionally, it might be worth it to get an app that allows you to remotely disable your phone. That way, if it is lost or stolen, you can protect your information from the unscrupulous.
What do you think of the movement toward digital wallets? Do you have a favorite banking application?