The slowest month of the year drags on, and out-of-office replies abound, we’ve actually managed to have an interesting week in the world of personal finance — especially as it relates to technology. Here’s a recap of the best stuff we covered this week.
Even if it feels like it can’t come soon enough, the kiddies will be returning to school in just a couple of weeks. They will be upset, but back-to-school shopping typically softens the blow of realizing the next nine months of your life will be dominated by boring busywork and pesky learning. This week we sought to make life a bit easier on parents by showcasing three credit cards that will fit well with your back-to-school shopping needs.
Speaking of shopping, we also filed a missive from the Ecommerce Hack Day, hosted by Dwolla, the Iowa-based mobile payments innovators, and Etsy, the Brooklyn-based portal for all things twee. It was a competition, and the winner of the grand prize was something called Miss Nev, which helps you never miss package deliveries. Pretty neat, but what ever happened to your corner bodega?
Maybe it’s a Starbucks now! At the very least, at Starbucks, you’ll soon be able to pay for your coffee just by saying your name. Square announced a new partnership with the ubiquitous coffee shop this week. Starbuck CEO Howard Schulz invested $25 million in the payments platform, and Square will be doing all of Starbucks’ payments processing. But will this sort of payment scheme work outside of a coffee shop — where you already tell cashiers your name as part of the transaction?
Soon, hopefully, you’ll never have to talk to another human being again. Lots of automation in the news this week. Bank of America finally — finally! — rolled out its mobile deposit feature after keeping customers waiting for months and months. (The bank also released a new rewards program). And, we learned that USAA is planning to add a Siri-like virtual assistant to its mobile app. If you’re not going to talk to a bank teller, or even an ATM, you might as well talk to a fake person.
While we’re talking technology, we might as well mention all-important social media. We all know that social media is important for vague and poorly-defined reasons: building your brand, networking, influence, etc. But what if the way you use social media determined the rate on your car loan? That seems like a silly thought, but Movenbank seems to think otherwise: they’ve began rolling out CREDscore, a new measure of creditworthiness that will probably take social media presence into account. We wondered if this isn’t the worst idea ever — aren’t introverts probably better with money?
In prepaid, there’s always news. This week we learned that Regions Bank has begun offering a savings account to its prepaid card users. For customers who use direct deposit and link a savings account, the Regions Now prepaid account is starting to look more and more like a free checking account — minus the checks. Relatedly, a Philly Federal Reserve study indicated that this might be the way the market is moving. Bank-issued prepaid works for banks and consumers better than any other form of prepaid.