What Do Cat Videos Have to Do with Your Mobile Banking App?
In the last 10 years, we have made huge leaps in the accessibility of cat videos; there are now even festivals for watching internet cat videos. Weirdly, this access to recreational media is driving expectations of banking technology.
I mean, if you can live stream four kittens living in a tiny dollhouse, it seems reasonable that you should be able to access your financial accounts online. And if you can download apps for your cats, your credit union or bank should have a mobile banking app as well.
By now almost all credit unions and banks have online and mobile banking that let you access your bank accounts (to varying degrees) electronically. Most online technology allows you to check your balances and view your transaction history, but what features make one platform better than the other?
Let’s dive in and see.
Easy Access to Balances
Financial institutions (FIs) know that most people don’t use account registers to calculate their balances. To make sure people don’t overdraw on their accounts, online and mobile banking platforms generally place balances front and center.
Note: Apps that offer “Instant Balance” rise above the rest by allowing you to see your balance, even before you log in.
Transfer Funds without Hassle
This feature is commonly found in online banking platforms, and some mobile apps offer it. The feature allows you to transfer money between accounts within your FI (like between your checking & savings accounts).
Note: Platforms that allow you to transfer to accounts at other institutions make things even easier on you, saving you time and energy (though you may have to pay a small fee).
Save on Stamps, Envelopes (and Paper Cuts) with Bill Pay
Most online banking platforms and some mobile apps offer Bill Pay. Your institution may call it something else, but the point is that you can make payments to vendors (like your cell phone provider, utility, mortgage lender, or other) straight from your computer.
Note: With some mobile apps you may need to set this feature up through your FI’s online banking platform beforehand.
Make Deposits in a Snap with Mobile Check Deposit
By design, mobile check deposit is only found on mobile banking apps. This feature allows you to deposit a paper payment straight from your phone into one of your accounts, simply by entering the amount and taking a picture of the check.
Note: This saves you from having to run to the bank every time you get a payment. A real time saver.
Reduce Paper Waste with Electronic Statements
Most online banking platforms offer electronic statements and you may be lucky enough to find it in a mobile banking app. Electronic statements make all of your statements available online, often as PDF’s.
Note: Electronic statements cut down on waste and excess mail, while making it easier to organize your finances.
Find Cash Locally with ATM Location Services
Some online banking platforms and mobile apps may have this built in. If they don’t, they should at least offer one on their website (you may find that the mobile banking app sends you to the website rather than offering the service within the app).
Note: ATMs are handy when they’re local but remember that you can also get cash when you’re shopping by requesting cash back at the register.
Stay Safe with Account Alerts
Account alerts are becoming more standard on both online and mobile banking platforms, but there are still some FIs out there that haven’t gotten there yet. Account Alerts let you set up notifications so that you know when your accounts have been accessed. They secure your accounts from fraudsters and you can use them to set up reminders or to help you stick to a budget.
Note: Like with Bill Pay, you may have to set up alerts through online banking before the feature will work in your mobile app.
The Bottom Line on Banking Technology
The bottom line is that almost any online banking platform and mobile banking app can make your life a whole lot easier. They can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for you to physically go into a branch, and processing times are often equal or even faster than in-person transactions.
I’ve mentioned account alerts, but since I’m covering electronic banking, I have one final word of advice. Make sure you’re protecting yourself. For most people, making your phone password or fingerprint protected and ensuring your online banking login password is good and strong are a great starting point, but if you’re worried you can always ask your FI what extra safety or fraud protection features and options they offer!