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Technology has made it easier for consumers to manage their money and financial lives.  The days of going into a bank and having to get a brochure or inquire about rates are coming to an end.  Customers are increasingly adopting new technologies to suit their changing lifestyles.  The frequency of going into a physical branch may have declined for lots of customers, but people still enjoy the option.  Let us take a look at how technology has advanced Banking and Investing. 


ATM’s


There are 1,000’s of ATM’s across the country.  Which means that even if it is not an ATM from your bank, you can still get money and conduct transactions.  Some benefits of ATM’s include: checking balances, transferring funds, and depositing funds (both cash and checks).


Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are streamlined for interacting with your accounts.  They allow you to find a branch, ATM and even contact your bank.  Using mobile apps makes it easy for people to review account info like balances and transactions.  You can instantly switch funds between accounts this way as well.  For investors, you can make changes to your investment portfolio also.


Paperless Transactions

The benefits of going paperless extend beyond the obvious impact on the environment.  Paper documents are often lost, and unavailable when needed.  By going paperless you will have access to all your documents online where they can be easily retrieved.  This will cut down on clutter, and keep you organized.  It also lessens the chance you will experience fraud from having someone get their hands on your paper documents.


Sending Funds

It is easier than ever to send cash to another person.There is no need to write someone a check or go to their bank and add funds to their account.  By having an email or phone number you can quickly send people cash.  Among popular services for transferring funds to people are Google Wallet and Paypal.


Mobile Payments

If you have been banking for awhile there is a chance you have multiple cards to carry.  Debit cards, credit cards, and gift cards can take up a lot of room.  If you loose a purse or wallet it is a task to report and replace everything.  Which is why mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are so helpful.  You simply add your payment methods and then you can pay with your phone when mobile payments are available.


Direct Deposit

This is fantastic for lots of people.  It can be a burden to receive paper checks which need to be deposited and then have a waiting period for funds to be available.  An added benefit is that money is available immediately once it hits your account and sometimes even a day earlier.


Bill Pay

Check the mailbox for all the bills, then write a check or go get a money order to pay.  Then mail the payment off, but only after finding stamps and envelopes.  Sounds tedious right, it can be.  This makes bill pay such a huge benefit.  You can add a payee and schedule a one-time or recurring charge.  


Shared Branches

Shared branch is a feature of credit unions that I am very happy exists.  If you are not close to a branch of your credit union you can find a shared branch to conduct your transactions.  


Credit Cards

Credit cards carry a lot of benefits and can be helpful if used correctly.  For instance, you don’t need to carry a lot of cash or to convert currencies when traveling.  You get a lot of protections when making payments using your credit cards.  When lost you don’t feel the same impact of cash or debit cards.  


Virtual Banks

Technology has made it possible to have a banking relationship with a company that has no physical location.  Examples of virtual banks include Ally Bank and Discover Bank.  The process of choosing an account, opening the account, funding the account, and managing the account can be done online.  


Account Alerts

You can set your accounts up to send alerts about stuff that is important to you.  Ultimately alerts allow you to stay on top of your finances.  I once experienced fraud on my account where someone wrongfully sent $2,000 out of the account.  Well, I got an alert that someone was added as a payee, and then another that there was a transfer of cash.  Because of the alerts, I was able to catch the issue and dispute it before the funds left my account.  Below are some common alerts.

Deposits
Withdrawals
Low Balance
Purchase Alerts
Fraud Alerts

Investment Alerts

Track portfolio activity
Balance and position changes
Price changes of a security
Market and investment research updates

Research

There is an incredible amount of data right at your fingertips.  If you want to research a bank or investment company just do an internet search.  It is easy to compare institutions in terms of what products/services they offer to see who will meet your needs.  You can even research the investments you are considering putting money into.

Cost & Access to Investing

Technology has substantially lowered the cost needed to invest.  Lots of discount brokers have cut the price of stock purchases to under $10.  Mutual funds tend to have minimums to purchase starting around $2500.  Which for a beginning investor may be an obstacle to investing.  Now you can set up automatic contributions to an account and an automatic investment so that you can still invest if you don’t have the minimum amount upfront.


Protecting Financial Accounts

There are a lot of potential risks that people expose themselves to when using new technology and conducting financial transactions.  Even though technology makes it easier to bank and invest, it also creates a need for upgrading safeguards to customers assets. Your bank or investment company should have a defined security policy that details how they protect your assets.  One big benefit that typically comes from investment firms is a policy for reimbursing customers for losses in their accounts when there is unauthorized activity.  The coverage your assets have depend on where they are, so you want to check.  If you cannot find the security information on a company website, then it is fine to give them a call.  Below are some things to do to protect yourself and your assets.

Set up unique passwords and do not use the same passwords for financial accounts.  I know sharing is caring, but not when it comes to sharing account details like passwords.  Make sure that a website is secure.  Look for https:// and the padlock symbol in the address bar.  Watch out for phishing schemes looking to gather information.  When unsure you can call your company or log into your account and send a secure message.  Be sure to always check statements and review transactions regarding your finances.  If you have not done so, signing up for identity protection is helpful.

Ways Companies Protect Your Accounts


Timed Logoff- After a period of inactivity, say 10 minutes you are signed out.
Strong Encryption- Having secure websites, ones that have https://.
Fraud Detection- Looking for suspicious activity and contacting you if something is off.
Automated Alerts- Sending you notice when certain activity occurs like an address change or email update.

 


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