We used checks for security and convenience. We didn’t have to go to the bank and withdraw cash—and it was becoming increasingly secure (thanks to a former fraudster named Frank Abagnale)! Carrying large amounts of cash to go pay rent or make a large purchase could be a bit nerve-wracking, so the checkbook became our way.
Well, checks are no longer the most secure and convenient way to process transactions. Thanks to technology, our own financial institutions, along with services like Zelle & Venmo, have made person-to-person payments significantly faster, easier and more secure.
In short, instead of worrying about those checks you sent your grandchildren in the mail arriving safely, what if you could send them a personal message along with the financial contents of that check in an instant without paying extra fees? And what if many merchants have also adopted this method of transaction?
This is not too good to be true, this is a great benefit of the digital age. The following services will allow you to transfer funds from your computer or mobile phone with newfound ease.
Your Financial Institution’s Online Banking Platform
The vast majority of financial institutions utilize online and/or mobile banking, allowing you to manage your money from anywhere. From local to international, most financial institutions also have a secure mobile app you can download to your phone.
Many of these online and mobile banking platforms will utilize services like online bill pay, granting you the security of transferring funds to an approved recipient on a weekly, monthly or annual basis directly through your financial institution.
Your bank or credit union may also have tutorials on their website to help you get acclimated to online banking. If not, the National Council on Aging has put together the Ready, Set, Bank™ program to help seniors become familiar with the securities and conveniences of online and mobile banking.
Zelle is a secure and easy way to send and receive money to and from family, friends and trusted sources directly from account to account. Zelle integrates with your bank to create a single pathway for your money to travel, instantly. It is commonly used to pay rent, split expenses with family & friends, and send money to loved ones. Many parents have even adopted Zelle as a way to introduce their children to banking and pay them allowance.
Although Zelle has not integrated with every financial institution, their list of partners and their overall convenience is growing. Check this list to see if your financial institution is a Zelle partner. If not, this next option also provides a social element that allows you to send notes and is great for gift-giving.
Venmo is another secure person-to-person digital payment platform that allows you to instantly send money to anybody else with Venmo or with certain approved merchants. Venmo can be used both on the computer through an internet browser or through a mobile app on your phone. Google/Android | iPhone
The two big differences between Venmo and Zelle are the ability to craft more personalized notes in Venmo, and the fact that you don’t have to go through your financial institution’s online or mobile center to use it. Unlike Zelle, though, both parties involved in a Venmo transaction must have set up a Venmo account. This also allows you build up your contacts list in your Venmo to make it easier to send or request money from anyone you are connected with.
You can also use Venmo as a more secure way to send holiday money to grandchildren or to your children for filling out your grocery list in a way that is more personalized than Zelle. Although Zelle allows for an optional note with transfer, Venmo offers a more social element to the chat with unique emojis and gifs to spice up your birthday message or thank you note.
Like Zelle, the payments go directly from account-to-account, avoiding the mail and uncertain route of a paper check. This Venmo tutorial on YouTube will help you get started, quickly and easily.
You still may need to use a check every now and then, so having that checkbook safely at home is still a good idea, but for more secure and convenient management of your finances, digital is the way to go!