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Do you remember the lines at the bank?

Dear lord, the lines….

If you’re of a certain age, or geographic locale, you’ll know that ‘going to the bank’ used to have similar, dreaded connotations as one might usually associate with going for a proctology examination. You’d have to set aside the better part of a day, most of it was wildly uncomfortable and you could be sure that no one you ran into while you were there was having a good time.

And if, like the majority of the working population, you couldn’t get to the bank during their limited business hours, you had to go in the teeny-tiny sliver of time they were open on a Saturday morning. You and the rest of town would stand in a line for (what felt) like 1 million hours, before finally handing over- or receiving- a neat stack of cash.

No wonder bank robbers used to have it so good.

Always-on Banking goes Custom

But things have changed, as the Bob Dylan song goes. Online and mobile banking apps have revolutionized the way people make deposits, transfers, payments- even investments, stock purchases and overdraft applications. Even the most financially disorganized person, like yours truly, can log in any time of the day, anywhere I can get a signal and, in a few minutes, pay back that $50 dollars I owe my friend, Dave. I mean, hypothetically, obviously.

You ain’t never getting that cash, Dave.

Financial decisions that used to seem as weighty as, well, getting a proctology examination, can be made on a smaller scale without signing a pile of forms from a financial consultant. Want to invest in unit trusts? Do it while you’re getting your hair cut. Fancy buying a couple of top performing Nasdaq shares? Sure, you can do that while you wait for your latest iTunes purchases to download. You can tap, wave, scan and snap your card to pay for just about anything these days, with a smorgasbord of bespoke banking apps responding to culturally relevant needs.

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Like this South African credit card app, which realized that consumers were the ones with the computers in their pockets- not the informal, often rural, cash-based traders they were buying from.

Any national or regional bank worth their revolving door has, by now, hired an app development agency to custom-create a banking app to keep their clients at home, away from their branches. And we clients couldn’t be more grateful.

Security’s about to get Finger-Licking Good

Okay, so even though we’re not all standing in a line like a flock of sitting (standing?) ducks with wads of cash money grasped in our sweaty palms, too fatigued to notice the fellow three spaces down pulling on a balaclava and loading his sawn-off shotgun… There are still a lot of security concerns to be considered in this brave new world of banking.

Those online cons are always finding new ways to phish for your data, log your keystrokes, steal your details and hack into your account. It’s a constant race between the banks and the bad guys for our virtual funds. According to this report, almost 17% of Android apps are actually malware in disguise (just another reason to stick to using an agency that specializes in iOS app development).

However, mobile users can relax (a little). James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos, says, “Generally speaking, there is far less nasty stuff targeting smartphones than traditional computers, which in a way makes them more safe.”

There are already a number of security innovations currently in place to reduce digital security breaches. One time passwords, transactional notifications and regular security updates are part of the solution, but there is another, more exciting innovation on the horizon that banks should be looking to implement in their apps:

Biometrics, baby.

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Using custom fingerprints, iris scans and other physiological information as a means of identity verification is so very Minority Report, and it means fewer convoluted passwords for clients to try to remember. Just don’t think about that scene with the eyeball…. Are you thinking about it?

Sorry.

Banking Apps that will Save You Money- and Effort

Part of the appeal of biometrics-based security is that, unlike transaction notifications and one-time passwords, this tech takes some of the onus of keeping one’s account secure off the user. I mean you’ll obviously need to make sure you don’t chew your fingertips off, so there’s that.

Being notified that someone has just bought $2 000 worth of Levis jeans on your credit card, in the Ukraine is one thing, but having your bank inform you that they’ve already vetoed the bogus buy is whole other level of service.

And it’s not just a matter of security; it’s also a case of convenience. After all, that’s why online and mobile banking have enjoyed such exponentially quick rates of adoption. Even if there were a spate of articles warning you off using your mobile app, because there was a risk that Al Quaeda was tracking every move on your account and would empty out your pension fund, you’d still probably take a chance and log on to pay your rent on your phone. Because the alternative… facing the lines at the bankis just too ghastly to imagine.

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Budget-tracking apps are on the rise, replacing energy-sapping spreadsheets with colorful data visualizations that explicitly show users just how much they are spending every month, and on what. But once again, the pressure remains fixedly on the user to actually take all of these bar graphs and pie charts and interpret the information into productive action. Like going to fewer bars, and buying less pie.

This is where ‘smart’ data and the age of context steps in. For the first time, banks have the opportunity to finally acknowledge something we’ve all tacitly accepted since the birth of the barter system. Our lives are intricately interwoven with our incomes. No matter how many Hallmark movies tell you otherwise, money is important, it does make the world go around and it absolutely contributes to the quality of our lives.

Which is why the next wave of banking apps will do more than just tell you what’s happening on your accounts- they’ll be able to give you a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in your life. Imagine if your bank could tell the moment you landed in a foreign country- and then recommend the best place to buy local currency? Imagine if it could let you know when you’d overspent on take-out for the month, before you bought that large pizza with the works. It would be like having a personal banker with you, at all times… But without having to deal with his expression of gentle disdain when you decided to act against his advice and order extra anchovies anyway.

The future of banking is miles away from that stifling, Saturday-morning queue, but the real paradox is that the introduction of technologically sophisticated apps might actually result in more personalized, value-driven service than we’ve ever been exposed to from our banks before.