Q: What opportunities and challenges present themselves when using a mobile device to conduct personal business and finances?
A: I personally look at mobile banking the same way I look at having mobile access to the internet. I do 90% of my banking online and have been for about the past 5 years. I handle all my checking accounts, savings accounts, business checking, and personal investing all from my computer. For about the past 2 years or so, I’ve been using a very handy tool called Mint.com (recently bought by Intuit Inc.) which pulls my transaction data from all of these accounts into one convenient interface and helps to keep track of budgets and spending trends.
With the speed of mobile access increasing, it is becoming progressively easier to access tools like Mint.com, or online account access to manage your money from your mobile phone. Many banks have also created mobile sites optimized for mobile screens making it even faster when you’re accessing their site on your mobile phone. I think as people continue to be increasingly more to the internet via their cell phone, their interest in having online access to their money will naturally carry over.
In my opinion, the biggest benefit for investors isn’t necessarily access to their accounts as much as it is having the internet in their pocket. With our lives becoming increasingly busier, there are many points in a day when we’re waiting in lines or on a train or otherwise have a minute or two that could be productively spent looking at news or reports on investments that one may be considering purchasing. Internet enabled mobile phones can allow you to receive alerts on new news about a particular stock and then instantly look up what that information is. Maybe that one piece of information is what you were waiting for to buy. The fact that you have access to your account is a by product of having the internet.
I don’t see a problem with security as long as the banking companies continue to encrypt the information being transferred. Other than that, it’s up to the device owner to use discretion in order to ensure they aren’t handing their password out to the people around them. The browsers on mobile phones typically won’t retain any password information unless you tell it to, which would be unwise considering how often people lose their phones.