By Sean Nestor
Millennials today use technology to manage their money. What would it take for other generations to follow suit?
With a growing number of purchases being made online, it can become tedious typing in credit card numbers along with billing addresses, expiration dates and security codes. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a safe and secure way for your phone or computer to store all that information for you? Digital wallets solve that issue, storing credit or debit card information securely so that you can quickly and easily accomplish transactions online with no extra fees. A few popular examples include Apple Pay (for iPhone users), G Pay (for An- droid users), and Samsung Pay (for Samsung users). Digital wallets allow you to pay with “contactless payments,” using special point-of-sale technology that allows you to charge your credit or debit card by holding your phone near a card reader. As long as your phone is set up with a supported digital wallet service and has wire- less technologies known as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or Near Field Communication (NFC), you are good to go.
Mobile Payment Applications Certain mobile applications like Venmo (owned by PayPal) and Cash App (owned by Square) have become
services that take a fee as the go-to way for individuals to send money to each other. The fees are typically 3%, making them ideal for small transactions, like splitting a restaurant bill or covering a small favor.
Much like digital wallets, mobile payment applications require users to associate their account with a credit card, debit card or bank account. However, mobile payment apps are different in that users need to pick a unique username (or “handle”) that they can give each other when they want to connect. Though primarily meant for peer-to-peer transactions, the simplicity and popularity of these apps has led to their adoption by some small businesses, including artisans and restaurants.
Tech-savvy millennials are using apps for a variety of financial transactions – including managing brokerage accounts. Through popular trading applications like RobinHood and Webull, millennials invest in securities without commission fees or minimum investment requirements.
Apps have enabled unprecedented levels of participation in the market among younger people, thanks to ease of use.
Among the most interesting technological developments of the last decade has been the astronomical growth of cryptocurrencies, like BitCoin. These currencies are backed only by the complex cryptography that enables secure and accurate recording of transactions in a public ledger. Users can convert their local currency into cryptocurrencies using an exchange service like Coinbase, and a growing number of vendors (over 2,300 in the United States today) are starting to accept BitCoin along with dollars to complete transactions. While the utility and long-term future of cryptocurrencies is debated, they’ve been a profitable investment. Researchers at Cambridge estimated that BitCoin mining was responsible for over 121 trillion watts per hour of global electric usage last year consuming more power than the entire nation of Argentina. See Cryptocurrency Demystified.
Concerning all these neat apps, you may wonder – “but are they safe?” It’s not uncommon to feel nervous when it comes to transmitting sensitive financial information. Every app uses encryption and has a number of security measures in place to prevent theft, and most banks and credit card vendors have implemented policies to identify and block fraudulent charges. Still, the basics are important: use strong passwords, change them regularly, and don’t leave devices unattended in public. These simple practices will go a long way in allowing you to use the best technology has to offer while protecting against fraud and abuse.