How Cell Phones Are Shaping Your Banking Habits

Article Category: Finance  |   

This week has seen the 40th anniversary of the cell phone. Thanks largely to the invention of the smart phone, our cell phone is now playing a major role in how we run our every day lives.

Mobile banking screenshot - photo

Mobile technology has come a long way since the late 80's. Back in those trailblazing days, you'd be lucky to get an hour's talk time out of what was, pretty much, a house brick with an antenna. But, with a little competition and some serious innovation, the mobile revolution went full swing.

As times have changed, each iteration of mobile technology has attempted to twist our lifestyle. SMS was one of the most popular and successful innovations to come out of the GSM laboratories. But now, with the ubiquity of smartphones, a new group of organisations is trying to bend our world to meet theirs - the banks.

Want to know how your banking habits are being moulded by your smartphone?

The ATM Is Becoming A Thing Of The Past

The very first ATM opened for business 'way back' in 1959. At the time it was such a ground breaking innovation that none of the population had the cards that could be used in them the first one appeared in 1972! Now they're a part of our everyday lives. In fact, when was the last time you saw a town without a single ATM? But times are changing. Smartphones have given us the ability to withdraw money without ever having to visit a cashpoint.

When did this happen?

In late 2011, the banks and phone manufacturers launched a new digital innovation upon the world: 'touch to pay'. In the blink of an eye, the need to regularly visit a cashpoint machine was consigned to the graveyard. In years to come, most of us will probably look back and chuckle at the antiquated way in which we handled money. Touch points are set to fast become the norm...

Bank Statements Have Been Shredded Forever

Go back as few as 5 years and remind yourself what you most dreaded dropping through your mailbox (the physical one not your email inbox). It was probably your credit card bill the one that said, 'Thanks for your custom. Now you owe us one month's salary'. The second, least popular piece of paper you had delivered was your bank statement. After all, it was pretty depressing to see how much money you'd managed to blow in a short space of time. Well, like the ATM, the paper statement is well and truly DOA.

It's fair to say that, with the advent of online banking, the days of paper statements were limited. But smartphone technology is the final nail in the coffin. Sure, it's still online banking but you no longer need to sit down in front of a computer (although you may still need to take a seat when you see the state of your account). What's more, pretty much every smartphone has an app that can be used to calculate your finances faster than you can say, 'I'm broke'. Seriously, would you ever want to go back to the bad old days of using a pen and paper to work out how little cash you do have?

Investment Opportunities For All

The investment banking sector has a pretty bad name right now. Sub-prime mortgages, LIBOR scandals, price fixing... it's a sad list that never seems to end. But bankers had a pretty bad name well before the global financial meltdown. Investing in stocks and foreign markets was pretty much closed off to ordinary people like you and me. Until some enterprising individuals decided it was time that everyone should have a chance at earning some real dividends without subsiding a broker's lifestyle. A new age of mobile investors was born.

In 1994, K. Aufhauser & Company, Inc launched the first website offering online investors the chance to make some serious money. Although it was a revolutionary idea, you still had to have a decent pot of money just to break into the markets. Not only were you expected to pay a hefty monthly subscription for access to real time market feeds but a percentage of your profits was 'claimed' by the site owners. Yahoo! changed all of that with their near-realtime market feeds. Since then, companies such as Bloomberg have added their own spin on the investing game by launching apps for pretty much every smartphone on the market. Sure, you still need to pay for access but it's a far cry from the days when you were at the mercy of a small number of specialist websites.

Depositing Checks Made Simple

Nightmare or nostalgia trip: depositing a check in your bank account? Remember standing in those queues? Did you really enjoy filling out a paying in slip? Then the was the standard clearing time for your deposit. For most of us, it's one of those mundane tasks that we did our best to put off for as long as humanly possible. More recently, banks have introduced faster, automated processes that cut out lengthy queues and the dreaded paperwork. The next, logical step was to bring this technology to smartphones.

In 2009, remote deposits finally made their debut as truly mobile applications. In this year, the Deposit@Mobile from USAA went live as an app for the iPhone. In one simple move, the banking industry changed over 200 years of ingrained habits that we'd been conditioned to believe were a prerequisite for depositing checks into our accounts. Vive le financial revolution. Whilst most banks currently only allow deposits of up to $5,000 a month, the apps that facilitate remote deposits are racking up an impressive number of downloads.

4 ways your mobile phone is slowly changing the way you bank. But bricks and mortar branches will be with us for a long time to come. After all, would you really trust a computer to make a decision on your eligibility for a mortgage based purely on an algorithm?

Written by James Redden

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Last update: 05 April 2013

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