There's a good chance you've used your bank's online features at some point. Two-thirds of Americans are regular users of digital banking, and that number keeps growing. The amount of features and ease of use are making in person banking and cash seemingly obsolete.
Before the proliferation of online banking, we would carry checkbooks, cash, and even deposit slips to make sure our financial affairs were in order. Today, all of these methods of using or depositing money can be relegated to the past for good. Here is where electronic banking is today and why you should be using it.
Our smartphones have opened new worlds to us on the go, and they have also allowed us to access our money anywhere at any time. Almost all banks have some sort of online banking app that gives you the power to, at minimum, check balances and stay updated on your finances.
These apps make banking easy, and a lot of the functions available in the apps makes visiting a bank branch unnecessary. The days of standing in line for deposits, withdrawals, or even customer service can be over if you want them to be..
Online Bill Pay
Bill pay is an option most online banking apps offer that allows you to pay your bills directly to the provider. For example, you can pay your utility bill by entering your account information and then sending the money directly from your checking account. Your bank does this process so frequently that they keep all of the common payees their customers use ready to access and send money to.
Paying your bills used to be an evening of sitting down with envelopes, stamps, and writing out checks to each service provider. With your bank's online bill pay all you have to do is set up the pipeline once. Then each month you just enter the amount and hit send (you can even set up automatic payments for many of your bills, which comes in handy if you can never remember the exact due date). The time and effort saved is huge.
Another amazing feature not everyone knows is available to them is the mobile deposits feature. Most banking apps will allow you to take a picture of the front and back of a check to deposit it into your account. You still endorse the check as normal, but you utilize the camera to streamline the process (hey, now you can take more than just selfies).
With this feature you don't need deposit slips or time out of your day at the bank. Personal checks, payroll checks, or any check you may receive can deposited this way.
The mobile deposits don't speed up the process of the money getting into your account, though. The bank will still need to process the check as they normally would, so it could take 2-3 business days to fully clear. This is normal, but mobile deposits still make your life that much easier (goodbye anxiety of having to actually speak to a bank teller).
You just arrived at a friend's birthday party, but somehow you forgot to get them a card or gift. What a terrible friend you are. Luckily, with the advent of electronic banking and banking apps, you can give them the best gift of all, cold, hard cash. Sort of.
With just a few taps on your phone screen you can send money that can be received almost instantly. Banks have set up networks that allow you to send person to person payments by only knowing their email address. You no longer have to write a check or remember to stop and the ATM and get some cash to slip into their birthday card. And there are quite a few different options for that service. Here are a couple of them:
Zelle is a person to person money transfer service that's associated with banking institutions. Your bank may use Zelle or a service like it to initiate those instant person to person payments.
This service allows you to send or receive money using just their email address or mobile phone number. Some of the biggest banks in the U.S. use Zelle, such as Wells Fargo, Regions, Capital One, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America. Look for Zelle on your online banking app, and see if you can start sending money quickly and easily.
You've probably heard of this one before. If you know the name but have never tried it out, this is one you need to download right now. Venmo is an app from PayPal. The app links to your bank account, debit card or credit card and allows you to easily send money to your friends. Trying to split the bill at the restaurant but don't have any cash on you? No problem. Just whip out your phone and send your share to whoever paid the whole thing.
Something to keep in mind when you're using Venmo: you can send payments from your bank account, debit card, or Venmo balance for free, but using a credit card will cost you a 3 percent fee.
In the early days of online banking most people had feared their money wouldn't be secure in cyberspace. The internet was a scary place where anything could go wrong and hackers were everywhere. While the internet is still dangerous in some corners of the web, electronic banking has come a very long way to being secure.
Banks encrypt your data, especially when doing transactions, so hackers or any other threats don't have access to your information. No transaction is 100% secure, but the bank has protections in place to help you. Your bank accounts are insured by the FDIC, and your bank does everything they can to protect you and your money.
Online banking apps also give you some quick and easy security features like these:
- You can lock your debit card at any time with a quick tap.
- Instantly report your card lost or stolen.
- Order a new debit card in just a couple taps.
- View your account activity almost in real time to monitor for suspicious activity.
Electronic online banking has never been safer, and the banks have it in their best interest to continue making it easier and more secure.
Looking ahead, we see a world with no checkbooks at all, and online banking is making this a reality. The vast majority of consumers, especially younger ones, have made online their only form of banking. With online account openings, transfers, bill pay, person to person money transfers, and customer service, online banking is slowly making bank branches obsolete.