Manage your money from your cell phone

LOS ANGELES Carol Cain is a busy lady so she depends on her phone to keep her finances in order.

"I can pay my bills. I can transfer funds. I can check my balance and it allows me a lot of flexibility," said Cain.

Her cell phone is like her own little bank branch. Banking on the fly is finally taking hold. Twelve million people used mobile banking services last year and that number is expected to nearly quadruple by 2014. All kinds of banks are offering the service.

"Wells Fargo, Chase, Citibank and others offer the service," said James Van Dyke, Javelin Strategy and Research. "And you're going to see more and more offering over the next few years."

And it's not just the big boys going mobile, either.

"Smaller banks are using it because it's relatively inexpensive," said Don Rhodes, American Bankers Association. "There's not a lot of expense for a bank to set it up and it allows them to compete with the big banks."

And it's typically free to consumers. There are three kinds of mobile banking options. One is SMS, or texting.

"Where you text a command to your bank and they text you something back like your balance," said Van Dyke.

Then you can access your phone's Web browser and perform online banking functions like you would on your home computer. And, there are apps for many smartphones.

"These are usually based on the online experience, but they're actually designed to take advantage of the smaller screen so that you don't have to look around a big screen to access your information," said Rhodes.

What about security? The experts say mobile banking is safe.

"Actually it's pretty secure because anytime you send personal information, your pin number, account number, it's all encrypted between your phone and the bank server," said Rhodes."You don't store that information on your phone."

Cain confirms that she has to input her info every time she logs on and feels safe. Her only complaint is the size of the screen.

"I would recommend mobile banking to others especially if they're busy, move around a lot, or travel," said Cain. "It allows them a lot more flexibility to get some stuff done."

Don't expect your cell phone to completely take the place of your bank. If you have any complicated transactions it's best to into the bank to deal with them.

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