Mobile Banking & Personal Finance Applications
Internet banking has become one of the most popular activities online over the last decade. By allowing us to pay our bills and manage our money from the comfort of our homes and around-the-clock, it has become more convenient to manage our money. Now with the advent of smartphones and always-on 3G data connections, banking has become mobile and we can now manage our money wherever we are.
In this article, we look at the range of applications that are available for banking on your mobile phone and discuss the security implications of using them. We also look at how you can transfer money using your phone, how to manage your outgoing expenses and discuss how the rest of the world is banking on their mobile phones.
Many of the UK’s major financial intuitions and banks now have smartphone applications or mobile-optimised websites:
- Barclays – Barclays does not have a dedicated mobile application but provides a smartphone-optimised website at Barclays.mobi. You will need to be registered for Barclays’ online banking service as the same security details are used on the mobile-optimised website. Barclays also provides a Pingit mobile application which allows you to transfer up to £750 to your friends and family.
- Bank of Scotland & Halifax – The Bank of Scotland and Halifax mobile applications are available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian handsets. The applications allow you to see your account balance and transaction history, transfer money between your accounts and make payments to others. You can also use the application to find nearby cash machines.
- HSBC – HSBC have a free ‘Fast Balance’ application for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry handsets. The application allows you to check your current account balance and see your six most recent transactions. For more advanced functionality, you can access HSBC’s online banking service in a mobile-optimised format. You will need your HSBC Secure Key to log on to this service.
- Lloyds TSB – Lloyds TSB provides a free smartphone application for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia Symbian handsets. Users of other handsets can access their mobile-optimised website.
- Nationwide – Nationwide provides free SMS text message alerts for their FlexAccount current account service. The text messages will let you know your current account balance and what your most recent five transactions are.
- NatWest & RBS – NatWest and RBS have a ‘Get Cash’ application for iPhone and Android handsets. The application allows you to withdraw up to £100 from a NatWest/RBS cashpoint by entering at “secure cash code”. This can be a convenient way of withdrawing money from your account even when you don’t have your debit card with you. It can also be used to transfer money to a friend by sharing the code. The full NatWest/RBS mobile application allows for payments to be made online and allows you to check your account balance.
- Santander – Santander provides a dedicated mobile banking application for iPhone and iPad. Users of Android and BlackBerry handsets can access a mobile-optimised version of the Santander online banking service at m.santander.co.uk.
Whenever possible, we recommend consulting your bank’s website for a link to download their application. This will ensure that you download the official application that is authorised by your bank. You should avoid downloading banking applications from other websites as these may not be authorised by your bank and may lead to your account details being compromised.
Mobile Banking Security
It should generally be safe to use a mobile banking application providing that you stick to the official application from your bank. You should never provide your account details or login details to a third-party application.
If you’re using your smartphone for banking, it’s worth taking some time to secure it. Adding a secure passcode to your handset and installing a remote tracking application such as “Find My iPhone” will help to protect your personal information in the event that your handset is lost or stolen.
You should also follow our tips for keeping your handset virus-free. Updating your operating system software on a regular basis will close off any security vulnerabilities and using an anti-virus application will keep malicious apps away from your device. You should also avoid jailbreaking or rooting your handset as this may introduce additional security vulnerabilities.
Finally, make sure that your bank has up-to-date contact details for you. They may occasionally contact you to verify payments and bank transfers. Having an up-to-date contact number is essential for keeping your bank account secure.
Another popular use of smartphones in personal finance is for budgeting and tracking your outgoing expenses.
Mint is a free personal finance application for iPhone and Android handsets. The application allows you to set a budget in various categories such as household bills and utilities, travel, shopping and restaurants. You can then input information about each of your transactions into the application. Mint automatically tracks your spending in each category and will notify you if you’re overspending in a certain category.
If you’re self-employed or you regularly incur business expenses during travel, it can sometimes be tricky to make sure you’ve kept all of the relevant receipts and records. Collating them can also be strenuous. The Expensify application for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone can make it easy to record all of your receipts, expenses and mileage figures. The application captures your paper receipts using your smartphone’s camera and automatically analyses them to extract the information for your expense records. It also makes uses GPS technology to record your journeys and automatically creates an expense report from your mileage figures.
Used in conjunction with mobile banking applications, these personal finance and budgeting applications can help you to better manage your money and spending.
Applications such as Mint and Expensify can help you to manage your spending and personal finances.
Mobile Banking Around the World
Although the cheque is gradually being phased out in the UK, it is still popular in countries such as the United States as a form of payment. With cheques being used for payments on a daily basis, smartphones have been used in the US to save on frequent trips to the local bank. Rather than physically going to the bank to deposit a cheque every time, it is now possible to snap a photo of the cheque on your smartphone. This photo is uploaded to the PayPal application or another banking application with money appearing in your account after about a week.
PayPal allows US-based customers to deposit a cheque in their account by taking a photograph of it.
Another significant application of mobile banking abroad is in developing countries such as Kenya. Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile banking service allows consumers to manage their bank accounts and pay bills via SMS text messages. This has been particularly important in Kenya as the poor public infrastructure and low population density means that the nearest bank may be hours away. By making banks more accessible through mobile technology, consumers are encouraged to save and invest their money for the future. For more information, check out our article on how mobile technology is used in developing countries.
In this article, we’ve looked at a range of smartphone applications that can help you to manage your bank account and how you spend your money. We’ve also looked at how you can automate your expense reports and how smartphones are being used around the world to make banking easier and more accessible.
Do you use banking or personal finance applications on your smartphone? How do you normally keep track of your spending? What banking and finance services would you like to see on your phone in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!
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