The most common activities performed by mobile banking app users include scanning and depositing checks, monitoring account balances and, for some, managing travel or hotel bookings. Many banks also offer online banking options for those who want an easier way to control their cash flow, pay their bills, and locate ATM stations. Some even allow person-to-person payments
Mobile banking apps have actually been around for years. The first bank to ever offer their clients the convenience of doing banking-related activities on their mobile phones was Wells Fargo. Today, according to a research firm in Boston, more than 6,500 financial institutions in the US have developed mobile banking services for people who want to keep track of their finances on the go.
Since more and more people rely on their smartphones (at least 70% of Americans who own smartphones use banking apps), app development is expected to increase even more. Developers will continue to come up with more innovative ideas for mobile banking. These apps will slowly change the course of regular banking.
Just last January, a new kind of bank was introduced to the public. GoBank, created by prepaid reloader Green Dot, is a mobile banking app of a different kind. Unlike existing apps, GoBank is not connected to any brick-and-mortar bank. It is a “stand alone” app; a mobile bank in the real sense of the word.
In other words, if you want to make a deposit or check your account balance, you will need to open the app on your phone. GoBank is the answer to the appeal of people who are practically glued to their mobile phones even when walking down busy streets. It can perform all basic bank functions, like paying bills and depositing checks.
This development is not surprising. Developers often try to outdo each other in producing an app – or apps – that can easily catch the consumers’ fancy; especially consumers who use mobile banking every day of their lives. In the coming months and years, more apps like GoBank will be spotlighted in the market, and people will continue to want more.
At this point, though, developers should also work on coming up with better security features for mobile banking. Security is the main reason why a good number of smartphone users do not yet use mobile banking facilities on their device. So before anything else, this should be prioritized.
Already available with many banks, users can deposit a check by taking a picture of it with their smartphone. I’ve used the feature now with Capital One 360 and absolutely love it. Called mobile remote deposit capture (RDC), my daughter uses this feature to deposit her paychecks into her Money account with Capital One 360. And I use it to deposit the occasional checks we receive. It’s a snap (pun intended).
While not all banks offer this feature, yet, they will.
Mobile Bill Pay
As the person who pays all the bills in my family, this feature is really exciting. Imagine taking a paper bill you receive in the mail and paying it by taking a picture of it. Similar to RDC, Mobile Photo Bill Pay is on the way. U.S. Bank is already testing this functionality.
There’s a hidden benefit to mobile bill pay–it will make switching banks easier. Rather than having to re-enter all your payee information and automatic payments, you can just snap a picture of each of your bills.
The security risks of mobile banking are minimal. Mobile banking apps do not work with third party programs, as they deal directly with you and the bank they are linked to. Your banking privacy is not compromised or shared with anyone else. In addition, banks also require their mobile clients to provide the right username and password before performing any kind of transaction.
Since apps are becoming more and more complicated and technologically advanced, however, security measures will need to keep pace. Leading the example is Wells Fargo, which is already working on using voice and speech recognition for carrying out banking transactions. This is an interesting development because it offers not only convenience, but also added security.
Smartphone as Your Wallet
Eventually, we’ll pull out our Smartphone to pay for things rather than our wallet. This is already a reality to a limited extent. Individual retailers like Starbucks offer apps that allow you to pay for products. And Google Wallet has made some progress. But overall we are still a long way from cutting up our cash and plastic.
What new features would you like to see your bank add to its banking app?