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Trend Spotlight

Making the Switch to Mobile Banking

Apple Pay, Apps Help Consumers, Businesses

Mobile banking is quickly becoming a popular, convenient way to spend and manage money.

Just a couple years ago, mobile banking primarily meant being able to check bank and credit card balances with a smartphone app. Today, many customers are routinely using their phones and tablets to manage, deposit and transfer money, and make purchases without having to carry a wallet.

T.J. Callaway, co-founder and CEO of men's gift, apparel, and lifestyle retailer Onward Reserve, says he makes mobile transactions in airports and cabs. He recently paid his credit card bill while on a quail hunt in South Carolina.

"It is vital that these transactions be secure," says Callaway, who has stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, as well as an e-commerce site.

The Boom of Mobile Money Management

Mobile banking is changing consumer routines for everything from grocery purchases to charity donations.

"It's just fascinating that people are all of a sudden really feeling comfortable using their mobile phone to do things like submit payments or shop," says Derek Gillette, communications manager for eChurchGiving, a Seattle company with a mobile giving app.

Some Apple iPhone owners are clamoring for opportunities to use the new Apple Pay service more often. Gus Felder, 36, a college football coach, said he headed to Walgreen's after buying his iPhone6, just to try out Apple Pay. Now when he's in stores and restaurants, he looks to see if they accept digital payments.

He estimates he makes five purchases a week with his phone, also using apps for online retailers. He says he would eventually prefer to make all of his purchases with his smartphone.

“I try to capitalize on every feature the phone offers," he says.

He's not alone. Amazon, for example, reported that nearly 60 percent of its shopping activity came from mobile platforms during the 2014 holiday season.

Even nonprofits and religious organizations are seeing what could be called mobile generosity. For example, 600 churches use eChurchGiving's PushPay app, which allows people to contribute via their phones. The company says the app has increased the number of people who are giving to churches.

“If we don't put that simple thing in front of people to unlock that generosity, sometimes they forget," Gillette says.

Welcoming the Convenience

Jerod Beck, a University of Georgia student, thinks phone first when it comes to managing his money. For about three years, he has used his phone to make deposits, transfer money, and check balances.

Whether it's the tech buff or business management major in him, Beck says he now enjoys the added ability to scan a code on his phone or tap a terminal to speed up the purchase process. He says he sometimes chooses a restaurant or store depending on its ability to accept a mobile payment.

“It is a lot more convenient than pulling out my wallet. People have their phones in their hand anyway," says Beck, 21. “It is seamless."

At Onward Reserve, Callaway says purchases from mobile devices have risen significantly.

Beck notes that his account numbers are encrypted, and to make a purchase on his phone, his thumbprint is required. "I would definitely like to see more companies use it," he says.

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