How online banking is making managing money easier
When Evan Hirschhorn found the perfect apartment in Manhattan, he planned to pay rent the way he always had: write a check and hand-deliver it to his landlord's office every month.
"Why don't you use your bank?" his landlord said.
Hirschhorn soon discovered that, using just his landlord's address and phone number, he was able to setup a bill payment online for recurring payments, which were delivered on the first day of every month. "Before automating it, I had been late on a few bills simply because I forgot or I missed an email regarding a payment reminder," he says. "This way, everything is always paid on time."
Since then, Hirschhorn has automated all his other bills, including his cable, internet, renters' insurance, and electricity. "I spend about thirty minutes a month managing my finances now," he says. "It's not something I have to think about anymore."
Thanks to the rise of digital banking tools, day-to-day tasks like paying bills, depositing checks or sending money are easier than ever—and many customers are taking advantage of the convenience. According to a survey by Morning Consult, a market research company, 71 percent of Americans use a mobile device to manage their bank account at least once a month, and 50 percent do so more than three times a month.
Mobile banking is more common among respondents in the Morning Consult survey aged 18 to 29, while people aged 65 or older are more likely to use a laptop or personal computer. But regardless of age, more people are banking online.
Easy check deposits
When Dora Chu first moved into an apartment with three other roommates, she was responsible for collecting everyone's share of the security deposit. Instead of heading to an ATM or a bank branch to deposit each check as it came in, she downloaded an app that allowed her to deposit the checks directly into her bank account. She simply had to enter the check amount, hover the camera over the front and back of the check, and the images were automatically captured. The funds appeared in her account the next business day.
"It was so fast, so easy—the whole process took about 45 seconds," she says. "It beats having to find out what time the branch is open or wait in line for a teller."
Chu's appreciation of the service grew when the bank sent an email confirming that her check had been securely deposited. "Time is really important to me so when things take a short amount of time and the result is secure, that's amazing," she says.
Splitting the check
Many apps allow customers to easily send and receive money from friends and family. It even lets them split payments, as well as request amounts they are owed. And many bank-based peer-to-peer payment services are free and easy to use. You only need to enter the recipient's email address or phone number, instead of complicated banking or routing information.
A large part of the popularity of these apps lies in their security. Many have security measures that protect users' identities and activities and encrypt all personal data, including passwords.
While banking apps are useful anywhere, they're especially crucial in rural areas where banking branches are not easy to reach. Using digital tools, residents can conduct their everyday banking needs—like depositing checks, transferring money between accounts, and paying bills—even when they're miles from a bank.
For all the convenience of digital tools, they aren't going to replace physical branches any time soon. Some things—like financial planning—are often best handled through a conversation with a real person. But for most day-to-day needs, they make banking as easy—and convenient—as picking up a smartphone.
Mai Nguyen is a Chase News contributor who focuses on finance. Her work has appeared in Wired and Vox, among other media outlets.