Social Security Goes Digital Along With Everything Else
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) The digital revolution isn't just coming--it's already here.
Less than a year ago, the government mandated that all Social Security recipients are required to receive their payments electronically, through direct deposit or a debit card (side note: the debit card is riddled with fees--mostly, it's targeted at recipients who don't have a bank account of their own). Is going check-free crazy?
In May 2011, 85% of all Social Security and SSI beneficiaries were already receiving their benefits electronically, and that was nearly three years ago. In other words, the government isn't just acting randomly to save money on mailing checks (though that's part of the gambit).
Electronic-only Social Security is just one example of the way money is increasingly becoming digitized, a symptom of the Zeitgeist.
Here are some more ways finance is turning digital:
Depositing Checks Through Your Phone
Within the past couple years, lots of banks (including ING, Ally, Citi, Chase, Wells Fargo and more) have begun letting their customers deposit checks through apps on their phones. In general, these services entail scanning and uploading a photo of the check from your computer, or taking a picture of it with your phone.
Receipts by Email
As part of the digital revolution, many companies are going paperless with their receipts. The results are far-ranging, from store receipts at Apple or Macy's to ATM receipts at banks like Citi or Wells Fargo. How does it work? Simple. At check-out, you have the option to print out your receipt or to have it emailed to you.
Enter Credit Card Info Though a Photo
A new trend when paying via apps is that you can capture your credit card info by simply taking a photo of it. Through business-to-business solutions like card.io, more startups and other e-commerce companies can easily integrate this capability into their offerings.
For example, says Abby Hunt, Director of Public Relations at GrubHub Seamless , GrubHub's iPhone and Android apps use card.io's technology so customers can simply take a snapshot of their credit cards when ordering takeout food through their phone apps. Though she declined to share specific metrics, she says, "It is a popular feature. We make ordering [takeout] convenient and easy, and this is simply another way for us to improve the overall experience."
In other words, no more memorizing your credit card number or even typing it in yourself.
Pay Your Rent Online or on Your Phone
Well, if you pay rent to a roommate, at least. Apps like Venmo (yes, the progenitor of those strange subway ads ) allow users to exchange money among themselves for free. This is similar in functionality to PayPal, but the user interface is much easier and friendlier, and you can do it very simply through your phone. Although there is an official Venmo app, you can also send money back and forth through text message if you don't have a smart phone.