Online banking when you need it

It’s not the sexiest smartphone app you’ll ever download. But using your bank’s iPhone or Android app could make your life a whole lot easier.

Many Kiwis are sold on smartphone banking apps from the very first time they use them. It’s not surprising. It’s like carrying a bank in your pocket.

These apps are especially useful if you need to pay someone else on the run. Or you can get an on-the-spot overview of your total balances to see if you can afford that to-die-for item you’re eyeing up in a shop. It’s not even necessary with some apps to log in to get a balance.

New Zealand’s high street banks all offer smartphone apps “ albeit each with slightly different functionality. A staggering 40% of electronic banking is now down on apps.

The apps are designed for banking on small screens and are fast and efficient to use. Most customers say the apps are much easier to use than surfing the bank’s full website on a smartphone screen.

The most sought after features of smartphone apps include:

  • Viewing of balances
  • ATM finders
  • Making payments
  • Transferring money between accounts.

Unlike online banking where you may need a user name and a password, smartphone apps usually only require one password or passcode.

At the sexy end of smartphone banking is the ability to pay money to someone else even if you don’t know the person’s bank account number. Instead of entering an account number you type in their email address, mobile number or facebook profile. You make the payment and a message is sent to the person giving them 14 days to collect the payment by clicking on the link. If the money isn’t collected it is returned to your bank account. This is great for those situations where someone you know refuses to take cash from you.

Smartphone banking is not a total replacement to online banking. You may not, for example, be able to search for a transaction or go back more than a few weeks or months or to set up new accounts, view statements and so on. You can, if necessary, however log into your online banking using your smartphone and get full functionality. It’s just more difficult to use on a small smartphone screen than a tablet, laptop or PC.

The big question worrying many bank app users is security. The banks, however, say it’s just as secure as their Internet banking. Even so, customers do need to take security seriously. The banks recommend that you protect your phone with a password. If you don’t you might struggle to have your money refunded if your account is accessed by criminals. If your phone is lost or stolen you will need to report that to your bank in the same way as you would if your EFTPOS or credit cards were stolen.

There are currently apps on the market for customers of ASB, BNZ, Westpac, KiwiBank, ANZ, TSB

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