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:
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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