Smart Phone User’s Guide to Smart Banking


There are benefits to having a mobile world of information at your fingertips, including banking. Find out the best and safest methods of utilizing banking tools on your smart phone.

In this day and age, it’s hard to find someone without a mobile phone attached to them like an additional appendage. Well, except for my mom, who is still holding out because she doesn’t “want to be found.”  I always tell her, “You don’t have to answer you know …,” but that is a conversation for another day.  As for me, I am known as the “crackberry addict.” Have you seen the cartoon about a 12-Step Program for those addicted to the Blackberry? That would apply to me.

With the creation of smart phones, you have access to a world of information at your fingertips. In fact, the Blackberry mobile applications are stored in Blackberry World, which is much like the Apple iPhone app store.

Before I get sidetracked talking about the many incredible applications for your phone, I want to talk a bit about mobile banking. I am often asked questions about how it works and whether it is secure. There are three different mobile banking applications: text, Internet browser, and an application installed on your phone.

The text-based version is not secure but is generally designed to send simple information that doesn’t need to be secure. For example, you text “balance” to a specific number and the reply is your savings or checking account balance. No secure information is included. A text program may not offer you full functionality, but it will cover the basics. Be cautious with text message banking. Don’t respond to a text asking you for your personal information, as these are fraudulent. A reputable institution would not initiate that request to you, only reply to your request.

Internet browser and installed application programs are designed to be secure and include security measures to protect your data, such as security questions or unique PIN numbers (personal identification numbers). The Internet browser version really just means that you are visiting a web page on your phone. For this to work, you need to have an Internet-compatible phone with a web data plan (fees from your provider may occur based on your plan’s details). On your phone, you would type in the web address (URL) for the mobile banking application. Often times this is just the same address you would use on your home computer, the mobile version has just been optimized to display on a small screen. In this version of mobile banking you should be able to complete most transactions that you perform on the computer home banking version.

Lastly, the application-based program resides inside your phone and often comes pre-installed. Otherwise, you need to download the application to your phone. Once you have the application, it also operates in a secure environment and allows for you to do many transactions.

Typical transactions that you can conduct on your mobile phone include check your balance, view transaction history, make transfers, pay bills and more. It does come in handy when you want to make sure you have enough money in your account to make an impulse purchase on shoes. You can simply login and check your balance right from the store!

The questions that I have been receiving more often lately are related to bank applications for smart phones. Whether it’s a Blackberry, Droid, iPhone, etc., a variety of applications exist. These applications could be created by large institutions such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, ING, or your local credit union.  Applications vary in type from personal financial management tools that help you track your expenses, locate ATMs and calculate mortgage payments, to tracking stocks and more. Most of the applications that are provided by a nonfinancial institution cost you a few dollars to download and install. I always recommend doing research on the application before you buy and install; try the free download and see if it really performs the function you are hoping it will. Also, do research on the company that created and provided the application to ensure that it is from a legitimate source. If you are the type of person that needs some help being organized, a mobile app may just be the solution.

Tags: april clobes, smart banking, smart phone, smart phone banking


April Clobes

April Clobes is Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for MSU Federal Credit Union in East Lansing. She can be contacted by e-mail or by calling (517) 333-2254.

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