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How Mobile Banking Reminders Work

Shopping? With mobile bank reminders, you can check your balance before you buy.
Shopping? With mobile bank reminders, you can check your balance before you buy.
Jamie Grill/Iconica/Getty Images

John Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea for automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the early 1960s while taking a bath; by 1967, the first such machine was up and working [source: Time]. Shepherd-Barron developed the device because he was frustrated at not having access to his own money on the weekends, when banks were closed. Now, with widespread ATMs and developments such as online banking, people have access to their accounts anytime, day or night.

Mobile banking is one way that people can pay bills, transfer funds and access account information without setting foot in a bank or taking the trouble to boot up their computers. All that's needed is a cell phone with wireless capabilities, and as more people buy phones that can access the Internet, mobile banking is sure to grow. Most banks offer the service at no additional charge to account holders, which means the only fees you'll accrue will depend on your data and text plans with the cell phone company. TowerGroup, a finance research company, estimates that by 2013, 53 million people will use mobile banking, compared to the 10 million people who used it in 2009 [source: Choney].

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One key factor that TowerGroup cited for mobile banking's growth was the ability to check a balance at anytime and from anywhere. By sending a text message to your bank, you can get not only your balance, but recent account activity, upcoming payments owed and nearby ATM locations. But if you'd rather have this information sent to you automatically, without a prompting text, then you can sign up for mobile banking reminders. These alerts take the form of text messages. If you'd like to get a comprehensive look at your bank account with the ease of pushing a button, then read on to find out what reminders are offered and how you can access them.

 

Mobile banking allows you to pay bills on your commute, check your bank balance from the store checkout line and transfer funds during television commercials. But another feature mobile banking offers is the opportunity to sign up for text reminders about your account.

Though different banks may offer slightly different alerts, these are the kinds of reminders most users can receive:

  • daily balances
  • notifications that an account has been credited
  • notifications that an account has been debited
  • notifications that an account's balance is above or below a certain amount
  • reminders about upcoming due dates on bank-related loans or bills that are paid online
  • reminders when those bills are overdue
  • reminders about maturity dates of certificates of deposit

Setting up these reminders can be done online or in person, depending on the bank. Let's say you'd like to receive a text message when your checking account exceeds $10,000, because you want to deposit the excess into your savings account. If your bank allows online setup, you'd be able to view all your accounts, select the one that you'd like to receive updates about (in this case, checking) and enter the values that will serve as your thresholds for alerts ($10,000, for example). You would then likely need your phone's SMS address to direct the messages. Once you received the alert, you'd be able to text your request for a funds transfer to your savings account.

With most banks, you could receive as many alerts as you'd like; you could have one reminder that alerted you to more than $10,000 in your checking account, as well as one that told you when your funds were dipping dangerously low. Remember, though, that charges will vary according to your cell phone plan. Though the messages will not be encrypted, banks assure that mobile banking is safe, even if you were to lose your phone. However, treat these text messages the way you would any e-mail from your bank. Don't click on links that may lead to phishing scams, and be wary of any e-mail that asks for private information, such as a Social Security number or a password [source: Choney].

Though people are still getting the hang of mobile banking, one study already demonstrates the possible benefits. In tests conducted in the Philippines, Peru and Bolivia, researchers found that sending text messages about saving increased people's account balances by 6 percent, indicating that a quick reminder was more efficient than a financial lecture or a long letter [source: Peterson]. The researchers believe these findings could translate to the United States as well. It may be that a simple text message is all the reminder you need to keep an eye on your financial future.

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Sources

  • "ATM inventor honoured 40 years on." BBC New. Dec. 31, 2004. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/4135269.stm
  • Choney, Suzanne. "Mobile Banking on the Rise During Recession." MSNBC. Oct. 5, 2009. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33079970/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/
  • Kim, Jane J. "Mobile Banking Shifts into Higher Gear." Wall Street Journal. Feb. 21, 2007.
  • Mills, Elinor. "Mobile Banking: Safe for Now." CNET. Feb. 15, 2009. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10164244-83.html
  • "Mobile Alerts." Meritrust Credit Union. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.meritrustcu.org/mobile_banking.php
  • "Online and Mobile Banking Alerts How-To." Standard Banks. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.standardbanks.com/banking/personal/services/online_banking_alerts_how_to.aspx
  • Peterson, Kristina. "Cellphone Reminders Boost Savings Balances." Wall Street Journal. Nov. 4, 2009. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.filife.com/stories/cellphone-reminders-boost-savings-balances
  • Quain, John R. "Cellphone Banking is Coming of Age." New York Times. May 24, 2007. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/24/technology/24basics.html
  • "Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Money." Time. (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1914560_1914558_1914559,00.html
  • Wells Fargo Mobile Questions. (Jan. 12, 2010)https://www.wellsfargo.com/help/faqs/mobile

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