I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t stop to marvel at the piece of Star Trek-esque technology that I carry around in my pocket. I check my email, send text messages, snap photos, surf the Web, keep tabs on updated soccer scores, play games, and even make the odd phone call on my iPhone. But as amazingly versatile as smartphones already are, they’re increasingly becoming valuable tools for financial planning.
Beyond Basic Banking
We’ve already covered the wonders of apps such as Mint.com, which provide handy ways to track spending habits. The big banks (and many credit unions) also have free apps that let you do a lot of your banking by smartphone. With the TD Canada Trust app, for example, you can log into your account, pay bills, make e-transfers, and do pretty much any of the other online banking you’d handle while sitting behind a desktop. Just make sure you’ve downloaded the bank’s legitimate program before you start entering passwords!
Trading On The Run
Stock markets move massive amounts of micro money in fractions of a second. Which is why most major markets have eliminated the old-fashioned trading floor – with brokers exchanging slips of paper – for entirely electronic ones. Why should you stay in the dark age, calling a broker to make trades for you? The CIBC Mobile Brokerage, to cite one example, lets you monitor you accounts and holdings but, more significantly, it lets you actually buy and sell stocks from wherever you are (be it a golf course, doctor’s waiting room, or mall food court) as long as you have cellular reception.
Fostering the Growth of Technology
We’ve seen the first glimmers of the “digital wallet“, which will place smartphones at the forefront of point of sale. Now, the technology race is on. Back at the beginning of April, the Royal Canadian Mint announced the MintChip Developer Challenge, a contest to create person-to-person and person-to-business apps to securely exchange electronic funds via mobile devices using five patent-pending technologies.
A month later, CIBC and Rogers Communications announced a partnership to develop a program that would enable users to make Visa or M/C payments through their phones. While there’s no launch date set yet, Rogers’ president of communications Rob Bruce says that their vision goes well beyond credit cards. “We see a world that is all about a mobile wallet. It’s not about one credit card on one phone. It’s about your library card. It’s about your card that allows you to collect points at your favourite drug store.”
Bell is said to be in negotiations with other banks to offer similar programs. One day soon your phone could hold the keys to every aspect of your life. Now just don’t lose it.