Mobile banking is fast becoming an everyday part of life, with all the major banks in Australia now offering a mobile app, and many others following suit. But, just as branch, phone and internet banking have some unique features, so too does mobile banking.
One of the biggest advantages of mobile banking is that it lets you check your balance and transfer money wherever you are. The infrastructure of banking apps also adds security to the process (particularly when compared to using a internet browser on your phone), leading to more portable, safer banking options than ever before.
The past couple of years have seen huge leaps forward in this field. From apps that let you bump phones to transfer money and those that let you pay someone via their phone number (instead of bank details), right through to apps that let you use your phone instead of a card at the checkout.
As St George said when it launched it’s Australia-first live account balance widget for Andriod phones: “Online and mobile banking is like a digital front door to our business and is critical to our success now and in the future.”
The Commonwealth Bank echoed these sentiments a month later in April 2014, when it launched the country’s first cardless cash service and app features to lock cards and limit spending.
“Mobility is not a trend; it is increasingly our way of life,” the Commonwealth Bank’s Group Executive Enterprise Services and Chief Information Officer, Michael Harte, said.
But with so many banks investing in this kind of technological service, there is a good chance you have access to some features you don’t even know about. This guide is designed to help you get the most out of any mobile banking app you use, so that you can make it easier to manage not only your debit cards, but all of your banking needs.
On This Page
- Getting started with a mobile banking app
- Everyday banking on a mobile app
- New mobile app services
- Updating your mobile banking app
- Mobile banking security
While you can usually access some mobile banking features from the web browser of your device, specific apps typically offer more functionality. Your bank or credit union’s website should have a page outlining what the mobile banking app provides, but you can also check this information by going to your mobile’s app store (the App Store for Apple products, Google Play for Andriod devices and Windows Mobile for Windows devices).
If you plan on using mobile banking for something specific, such as checking your balance or transferring money between accounts, make sure that the app offers these features. Once you’ve checked it out, simply download it to your device and follow the setup prompts. The app should be functional straight away, so it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes exploring to figure out the similarities and differences between other banking methods you’re more familiar with.
Setting up a mobile app is also a good time to consider your login security, particularly when it comes to passwords. A combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and even symbols is recommended, and NAB also suggests you change your password every three months and don’t use it for any other accounts.
Typing in mixed character passwords is more awkward on a mobile device, so many banking apps actually use a four-digit login similar to the PIN you would enter for a debit card. If that’s the case, avoiding easy-to-guess options like 1234 is a good idea. Whatever the case is, following this advice will ensure your account is well protected whenever and wherever you access your account.
After spending some time exploring your mobile banking app, you should be able to see some similarities with internet banking. It is worth noting that every app is slightly different, and specific steps for everyday banking vary because of this.
But as mobile devices are typically much smaller than desktop computers, the features tend to be laid out in a way that makes it easy to figure out how to check your account balances, transfer money and so forth.
This screenshot from the ANZ Android mobile banking app demo video, for example, shows all of the accounts listed, with balance details on the first page of the app. To see transactions and other details, all you would do is select the account you want to view.
Tapping the menu symbol in the top left corner (which looks like three horizontal lines), would take you to a list of other options. In the case of this app, that includes standard transfers, “Pay Anyone” and bill payments.
Most standard mobile banking apps have a similar layout, so it should be relatively straightforward for you to find what you’re looking for. So after selecting the account that you want, you can easily do everyday banking tasks like transferring money, paying bills and checking your balance to make sure you have enough money on your debit cards or credit cards.
Many mobile banking apps have services beyond the familiar “everyday banking” options that can make managing your money easier than ever before. “Pay Anyone”, for example, is a feature that allows you to transfer money to someone using their personal details.
The range of mobile banking app features available really varies between banks (and even app versions), but some of the best options include:
- Pay Anyone: Allows you to transfer money to someone using a mobile phone number, email address or even a Facebook account.
- QR code payments: Scan a QR code to make or receive payments instantly (the NAB Flik mobile app is a great example of this feature).
- Personalisation: Options to change the list order of your accounts, change your account names/nicknames and add pictures.
- PIN change: Lets you instantly change the PIN for your debit card or credit card.
- ATM finder: Helps you find the nearest ATM for your bank or within your banking network using the GPS on your phone (or a postcode).
- ATM withdrawals: Withdraw money from an ATM using your phone instead of a debit card.
- Contactless payments: Pay at the checkout with your phone instead of a card.
- Activate cards: Activate new debit cards via the mobile banking app and start using them straight away.
- New applications: Lets you apply for new accounts or products from the app, saving you time entering all of your details again.
- Set account limits: Gives you the option to set daily spending limits or even to “lock” your account for certain transactions (such as with CommBank’s Lock and Limit service for credit cards).
Usually the app store page will outline specific features in a list, with images or even with videos that demonstrate how you access and use different tools. Taking the time to check out this information, and maybe even read some of the reviews, will help you get as much as possible out of your mobile banking app.
There are all kinds of other mobile banking app features being developed and released throughout the year, as well as updates for existing features. What’s more is that security risks and services are also changing all the time, not just online but also in the mobile market. So, just as with any other app on your phone, it’s important to check for updates.
Most apps automatically alert you when a new version is available, but you can also check by going into the app’s settings and manually requesting a search for updates.
Another option is to go directly to your device’s app store and looking at the latest version and release dates. If you’re logged into your device at the time, it will also tell you what version you’re using and whether you need to update it.
Mobile banking apps can take up a lot of data, so if you do need to get a new version it is a good idea to make sure you’re connected to a secure wireless connection. That way you will save data on your phone plan and make sure the download happens on a safe network.
The growing reliance on technological connectivity has also led to an increase in security risks. Card-not-present (CNP) fraud has consistently risen over the past decade and countless data has revealed it now makes up the majority of credit card and debit card security issues.
While banks, payment processors and merchants all have their own strict security in place, it is also important for us to take steps to stay protected. When it comes to mobile banking, specifically, checking what protection is available is a good place to start. This could include 24-hour fraud monitoring services, specific password requirements, zero liability policies and more.
Westpac, for example, explains: “our Security Guarantee means we’ll refund your money if your account is compromised due to internet fraud, as long as you comply with our Online Banking terms and conditions. This includes keeping your access codes and passwords private.”
Suncorp, on the other hand, limits external transfers from the mobile banking app to $2000 a day, stating: “If you need to transfer more, to ensure your security, you’ll need to use the desktop version of Internet Banking and order an External Transfer Password.”
The specific security measures do vary between accounts and apps, so check with your bank or credit union to find out their specific policies for mobile banking security.
Another security factor to consider is the connection you are using on your mobile device, and whether or not it is protected from external attacks. Smartphone viruses and malware are a growing concern around the world, with security company Sophos also reporting serious flaws in mobile app security verification.
The Australian Bankers Association and the Australian Federal Police have previously released a mobile banking factsheet outlining a range of security measures you can take to help keep your data safe. Recommendations range from the basic – such as locking your phone with a strong password when you are not using it and avoiding sending personal information via text or email – to installing antivirus and firewall protection on your mobile devices. Whether you use one or all of the security measures suggested, you will be helping to keep your bank accounts and other details safe when you use your mobile.
With so many features at your fingertips, mobile banking makes it easier to keep track of your balance, transactions and everything else when you are on the go. The level of investment banks are putting into apps also indicates how important they are in the future of banking.
But while it is easy to download and use a banking app for everyday transactions, there are also many other useful features that can be tucked away in the app’s menu. This guide has outlined just a few of the different things you can do with mobile banking apps in 2014, but there are bound to be others released in the near future.
So by taking the time to explore an app before and after it’s downloaded, as well as making sure you have the most up-to-date version, you will be aware of all the great things your banking app allows you to do. Then you can choose exactly how you use it to make managing your money easier than ever before.