How about a “Quicken” phone?

Ipod_phone_concept_1While the high-tech early adopters can hardly wait until Apple releases its own iPod fully integrated with a cellphone (see mockup left), I'm looking forward to one fully integrated with my bank (see NB, June 7).

Besides the usual list of online banking features, I want it to function as a data-entry device, kind of like a mobile Quicken. As I'm out and about, I want to be able to text message expenses into my transaction database, ideally housed at my financial institution.

How it works
Text messaging is used to post payment descriptions directly into my online banking transaction register. For example:

I pay $12.33 cash for coffee with my CPA. Instead of scrawling it on a receipt I'll lose within 48 hours, I text to the bank, "12.33 cash w cpa" which would then post directly into my transaction register. The shorthand would be enough of a description to prompt my memory even if I didn't do a thing until tax time. When back at my PC, I could expand on the description, add tax categories, and if necessary, download into financial software (Quicken, Money, etc.). If lunch went on my debit/credit card, I want to be able to add a descriptor to that transaction when it posts the next day, so I would text, "22.00 cr w cpa."


Security Applications may jump-start Mobile Banking

With the ubiquity of personal computers in the United States, the text messaging market has been slower to develop here than abroad. And since most banking interactions can wait until you are comfortably situated in front of your home/work PC, mobile banking applications have not been a high priority.

However, there is a new application that may jump-start mobile phone banking initiatives. Security.

With public confidence in the security of online banking waning, telephones, especially cell phones equipped with text messaging, offer an excellent option for secure two-factor authentication.

Here’s how it works:
1. Log in to the bank the old-fashioned way with username and password
2. A few seconds later, a four-digit number is text-messaged to your cell phone, or voicemailed to your land-line phone
3. Enter the four digits and start transacting

Text messaging can also be used for alerts, reminders, and other services.

But are U.S. users ready for advanced mobile phone features? It turns out the answer is a resounding YES. Would you believe 100 million U.S. users tapped into advanced features during the past three months. That’s a 58% penetration of all 174 million mobile phone subscribers. And two-thirds of the 58% sent or received text messages (37% of all subscribers) .

This fresh market data is courtesy of M:Metrics, a new Seattle-based telecom researcher who based these estimates from usage data complied across 35,000 U.S. mobile phone subscribers.

Not surprisingly, younger users embraced text-messaging the strongest. The penetration rate was above 50% in both the 18-24 year-old (68%) and 25-34 (52%) groups. The lowest penetration was 14% in the over-65 group.

Here’s more details on the advanced usage and percent penetration across all 174 million mobile phone subscribers:

Used at least one service          100 mil  58%
  Sent or received text message     65 mil  37%
  Used mobile email                      24 mil  14%
  Accessed news/info via browser   22 mil  13%
  Downloaded ringtone                 22 mil  13%
  Received text-message alert        15 mil  8%
  Used instant messaging                15 mil  8%
  Sent photo message                     12 mil  7%
  Downloaded display graphic          11 mil  6%
  Downloaded mobile game              6 mil  3%

Source: M:Metrics, March 2005, n=35,381 for quarter ending 31 Jan 2005

Read the full release.