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Mobile banking innovations

August 2, 2013
By MIKE MUKLEWICZ - The Scene , Times Leader

As you're standing in line at your local grocery store waiting to checkout, you quietly observe the people in front of you. They pull out a checkbook and begin to write a check. You silently sigh and roll your head because you now have to wait for this ancient process to finish- when they could have just slid a debit card and be done.

In this day and age, checks are a rarity even for the elder demographic in society. Debit cards are very easy and simple to complete your transactions with, so for the most part everyone should be using them. That feeling of watching someone pull out a checkbook has become less and less common. Now what if you were stare at people using debit cards in the near future, just as you watched that obsolete checkbooker at the supermarket? That time may be soon on its way.

In 2013, with the onset of technology advances, even a debit card may lose its appeal in the next decade or so. Many banks and companies are now switching to the newest form of payment which can be done right from the palm of your hand. Over half of all cellular devices in use today are now smartphones. The days of flip phones, slow mobile webs, and shoddy reception are over. Every task you now do in life can be sped up, organized, or bettered in some shape or form by the use of your smartphone.

The majority of banks now allow users to take advantage of a feature in their phone called NFC, or Near Field Communication. This chip allows you to place your mobile device in contact with a receptacle at cash registers. NFC has now been around for 2 or so years, but finding a compatible terminal was very few and far between. McDonald's was most notably one of the bigger franchises that invested in the effort. Now, each morning when you walk in to get your coffee, you can simple pay with your phone- often times turning heads in bewilderment.

The functionality of this type of technology isn't just limited to paying or withdrawing your money but also depositing as well. Instead of driving to your bank to deposit a check written from a family member or friend, you can now place it on any flat surface, and open your banking app to snap a picture instead. Taking a photo of a check can now place money directly into your account without ever seeing or interacting with a teller again.

Of course, with all these upsides and convenience of this banking technology, it can cause some concern for some consumers. Many safety features have been added to these services in addition to PINs and passwords. Within each NFC unit is a secure element that is incredible sophisticated and difficult for the most knowledgeable electronic guru who may be looking to cause some trouble. This secure element within is the only 'part' of the phone that makes transactions.

Consumers are encourage to be weary of their banks mobile apps until they read the details of that particular bank. While the majority of banks charge nothing to use these services, some banks are imposing fees. It is always a good idea to ask and research before jumping in.

Many banks actually lose money from these services and is a cause for banking companies in the future. It estimated that the losses banks lose out on due to their mobile banking solutions is in the billions. On the other hand, less personnel may eventually be needed in the future. Contact your financial institution for details about these services, they may just save you some time, effort, and trips.



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