The array of smartphones is diverse and making the best selection may depend largely on the recipient - kids, soul mate or business partner. Some phones have bigger screens, others have faster processors, and a few are great for watching movies.
Many smartphone users, however, are discovering that these mobile devices can be used for banking and payments - for convenient personal financial management (PFM). The numbers are impressive - nearly 50 percent of smartphone owners have engaged in mobile banking during 2013.
Most smartphones - certainly the market leaders - can be used for PFM, since most financial apps are programmed to work on the most popular operating systems.
One example is from CO-OP Financial Services (www.co-opfs.org) of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a provider for PFM smartphone applications specifically for members of credit unions. The company just introduced the latest version of Sprig by CO-OP. This smartphone app - known as a "digital wallet" - enables users to make instantaneous transfers between their credit union accounts, as well as immediately transfer money into destination accounts - payments on loans, for instance.
Credit and debit cards can also be registered on smartphones, becoming "mobile cards." Securing their use, then, becomes even more of a priority than with the physical card. Again, CO-OP Financial Services by early next year will offer CO-OP Card Controls and Alerts, a PFM app that allows credit union members to set card controls based their preferences, such as transaction type, merchant, location and payment thresholds.
Using smartphones for PFM - both the hardware and software apps - inevitably boils down to addressing security concerns. When searching for an app, make sure it comes from a trustworthy source - and go one step further by checking out the website of the developer. Both should be able to produce assurances that the app adheres to federally regulated audit standards for both physical and electronic security and intrusion detection.
With the right mobile PFM apps, the smartphone user will be truly good to go.