The smart money is still on mobile

By on October 30, 2015

While online banking has been all the rage for some time now – quickly becoming the norm in households across America – mobile banking is a much more recent phenomenon given added impetus by the launch of services such as Android Pay.

Nevertheless, a report earlier this year from the Federal Reserve has suggested that adoption of some elements of mobile banking is now slowing down – still growing, but not at the rates previously forecast.  For example, 52 percent of smartphone owners had used mobile banking in the 12 months up to the survey being taken – but that was only up one percent from the same period a year earlier.  

While the most common uses of mobile banking remain the same – to check balances and recent transactions, move money between accounts, or receive an alert when a transaction has occurred – it seems other, smarter ways to save money through use of your mobile are also emerging and on the rise. 

For example, 47 percent of smartphone users have now comparison-shopped with their phone while in a retail store, some even scanning barcodes and using best buy sites to find a better deal.  What’s more, 69 percent of users have actually opted to go to a different store to buy an item based on their in-store scan.  

The report also shows that 40 percent of the mobile banking enthusiasts are beginning to adopt a range of tools for their smartphone to help them track their purchases and expenses. 

There’s a whole range of apps available for your smartphone that, while able to interact with your bank, really have very little to do with traditional banking. Take Glassjar, for example. This is a really clever little app that allows groups of friends to share the cost of an event or a night out.  One person creates a Glassjar “pot” and everyone can transfer money into it before, during or after the event.

While Glassjar helps you recover owed money from your friends, Dollarbird helps you plan your finances ahead.  Without even storing your bank account details, Dollarbird lets you enter income and expenditure, set up recurring expenses and plan for costs moving forward.  The app can even send you alerts to let you know that payments are due, and by allocating expenses against different headings, it lets you see where you’re spending your hard earned cash – be it travel costs, household expenses or too many carry-out meals. 

The Sumday app is trying to take the link between smartphone users’ typical behavior and their future finances even further.  The idea behind Sumday is that you can link a savings plan – even as little as $1 at a time – to your activity on the Instagram social network.  

A 200-year-old global investment institution, BNY Mellon, is behind this investment scheme for millennials, and it aims to encourage the 53 percent of Americans with no investments whatsoever to start putting away some money for “sumday” every time they post an image on Instagram.

There’s no doubt about it: The widening scope of the apps and features in the smart finance space mean that for mobile banking, the overall picture is on the money.