- By Malcolm Anderson
- Published 05/3/2012
The recent generation of smartphones has finally captured the collective consciousness of the UK’s general public: smartphones are so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine a world without the helpful functions that these modern mobiles provide.
The stats tell a compelling technological story: the media regulator Ofcom revealed in 2011 that over a quarter of adults and over half of all teens use a smartphone, while the Office of National Statistics reported that 45% of all people who accessed the Internet did so using a smartphone.
The growth of mobile internet use is remarkable too: the Office of National Statistics also reported that six million people used their mobile phone to access the internet – just for the first time.
Internet banking use has also been fuelled by increasing consumer confidence in the safety of internet banking: a 2010 e-Customer Service Index survey stated that 80% of the 3,000 respondents would be more likely to use Internet banking than go into their physical branch, despite an increase in attempted online fraud.
These statistics illustrate how mobile phones have revolutionised our everyday communication, not least in the way we use internet banking. The average person can now – with their smartphone – authorise transactions and check the status of their current accounts, savings accounts and ISAs, while keeping regular track of investments held in accounts that frame market investments, such as a stocks and shares ISA.
To facilitate this regular checking, most high street banks now provide fully-fledged mobile phone applications that are compatible with the majority of smartphone brands. There are also a variety of third-party apps, such as Pingit, that aim to make transferring money less tedious, through a reductive simplification of the process to the level of sending a text message.
These applications can be imperfect, still a bit buggy – with omissions of fundamental information, such as a simple overview of an individual’s tax efficient ISA allowance or pending bank transactions – but this criticism could be extended to internet banking in general, which is still a relatively embryonic area for the industry.
Using a smartphone to track the stock market’s twists and turns – in real time – also presents possibilities for investors. Smartphone apps can offer convenient access to the indexes on the train or on the fly, mitigating against an unexpected twist that’s belatedly spotted after a walk home to find the figures.
Many smartphone applications allow an investor to monitor, buy and sell stocks and shares – in real time – for free. These apps – when combined with an investment package such as a stocks and shares ISA – afford a mobile milieu where investments can be tracked in real time at no extra cost, while the risks are significantly reduced and the tax-free rewards potentially increased.
These are possibilities that have only just been rendered feasible by technology and rarely has placing an investment or tracking an account been so easily accessible and hassle-free.
About the Author: Malcolm Anderson is an independent journalist writing about investments.