Mobile technology impacts many aspects of our lives, including the way we handle our finances. Clever smartphone apps have revolutionized the way we track, save, and spend our money. Here’s a look at six hot mobile technologies that help consumers manage their finances without burning a hole in their pocket.
Mobile Banking: Tracking Money on the Go
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Going to the bank used to be a regular chore; people deposited checks, moved money, and withdrew cash via face-to-face teller interactions. Today, banking can be done online, and most banks offer free smartphone apps so customers can manage their money anywhere, any time.
In order to keep up with the competition, banks strive to make their mobile apps as smooth and user-friendly as possible. According to Mike Sterns of the mobile strategy/software company Xtreme Labs, “A poor mobile banking experience can be the single factor for a bank to lose a customer.” Today’s consumers expect their mobile banking app to let them check balances, transfer money, and pay bills. On top of that, they expect stellar customer service.
E-Wallets: Spending Cash Anonymously
E-wallets are like virtual online banks where consumers can easily store and retrieve their money. PayPal is one of America’s most popular e-wallets, and its mobile application makes it even easier for on-the-go customers to reach their cash. All a person needs to set up a PayPal account is an email address and a password. Once there is money in the account, the e-wallet owner can use it to make purchases. Best of all, no credit card numbers are required for these transactions.
Coin: Managing Multiple Credit Cards
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Plastic credit cards take up space, are cumbersome in the wallet, and often get lost. Enter Coin, a new and innovative app by developer Kanishk Parashar that integrates up to eight different credit cards in one slender, card-shaped electronic device. Coin data is encrypted both on a user’s cell phone and card. For added security, the card frequently pings the phone to make sure it hasn’t been lost.
Coin costs $100 and is now available for pre-order. According to the company’s web page, shipments of the product will begin in the summer of 2014.
Managing Bills With Manilla
The penalty for forgetting to pay a bill can be severe. Consumers can avoid such penalties thanks to Manilla, an app that links consumers to over 3,500 bill-issuing businesses. Every time a bill becomes due, Manilla sends its users a notification. In addition, Manilla monitors outstanding balances and any reward program “points” that have accrued. For those who need a little extra help keeping track of expenditures, this free smartphone app is a godsend.
Monitoring Budgets with Mint
Mint.com is a popular financial software app that allows customers to watch bank account balances and track spending in one fell swoop. The program provides a monthly spending graph and chart, allowing users to see exactly where their money is going from paycheck to paycheck. Regular, easy-to-read reports are emailed to users and are accessible anywhere. Spouses who need to collaborate on their finances can access Mint reports at any time, making family budgeting easier.
NFC Pay-With-Your-Phone Technology
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A new smartphone technology called near-field communication, or NFC, allows consumers to make payments with their phone instead of their credit card. At some fast food drive-throughs, for example, customers can hold their smartphones close to the restaurant’s NFC reader and transmit payment information to the restaurant’s computer via radio waves. In order to do this, consumers need a mobile-payment-enabled phone. For instance, many phones from carriers such as T-Mobile offer this technology.
The technology works via an NFC chip embedded beneath the cover of the phone. Its potential applications extend far beyond the fast food drive-through; experts speculate that we will one day be able to start cars, unlock doors, and download information via NFC.
For lots of people, managing money is a mountainous task. These technologies make it easier to keep track of expenses and help consumers feel in control of their cash flow. Best of all, these technologies are affordable and, in most cases, free.