Cheques, Cameras and Banking Apps

My loathing of having to go to my local bank branch has caused me to review one of my rules about using banking apps on wireless devices (and using wireless phone networks). Every bank now offers “free cheque” deposit using your phone or tablet camera. Their ATM machines are effectively doing the same thing i.e. photographing your cheque and clearing it that way.

You simply take a picture of the front and the back of the cheque, with your mobile phone (inside of your  banking apps). Input in the app how much the cheque is for (with a note to associate with it as well). Note on the actual cheque that you have done the deposit (and when). Keep the cheque for 10 days (to make sure it clears) and once it clears, shred the cheque. TD offers this, as does Tangerine and a few other banks.

banking apps
Only Work in a Secure Wi Fi Environment

Previously I have ranted about the insecurity of doing your on-line banking over a wireless network . It’s also incredibly bad to do your on-line banking in an Internet Cafe or on any computer that you don’t control (even the one in your office, assuming your place of work is safe can be a dangerous assumption). Given using this new service means I don’t have to go to my “brick and mortar” bank, I will qualify my rant about wireless and banking apps .

  • Surprisingly it is better to use this on your a cellular data network (the security on those networks is much better than you might think), so if you are going to use this service and you are not at home don’t use public wi-fi or any stuff like that, use your cellular data network.
  • Don’t use Public Wi-Fi, Restaurant Wi-Fi, or “Hey look I found open Wi-Fi”, for anything, but especially not for Internet Banking, seriously, you aren’t doing that, are you?
  • If you have a home Wi-Fi Network and it is not open (i.e. you use WPA2, WPA or WEP protocols) then you can use your home Wi-Fi (also don’t broadcast your SSID either) for on-line banking.

An interesting issue can arise (that I read about on this Reddit Thread) that if you try to deposit a post dated cheque early (using your camera and your mobile phone app), you are going to end up being in a bit of a mess. To sum it up, the bank will negate the deposit, and the cheque you have will be useless, as it has been refused by a bank, so whomever wrote you the cheque will have to write you a new one (this is why it is well worthwhile reading the /r/PersonalFinanceCanada Reddit sub).


iPad Compatible Banking Apps

This was written a while ago, and more of the Canadian Banks have made iPad compatible banking applications, however, some still lag behind. All banking apps will work on an iPad, but they may only run in iPhone-only mode. This will make them look crappy, and not take advantage of all the extra screen space an iPad offers.

A while back I purchased an iPad for myself to see if I could “run” my small business (yes, this web site is a small business, stop snickering) on an iPad. I have learned a fair amount about the apps on the iPad and such, but I have also learned that for some odd reason many different apps only have iPhone compatible versions.

For those unfamiliar, you can run iPhone compatible apps on your iPad, however, they only run in Portrait Mode (short across top, longer on the side) and it looks pretty clunky (and most likely, if anything goes wrong, you are not going to get any customer support).

Apple iPad
Your New Banking Device ?

Whilst attempting to figure out how things work, I tripped across a couple of interesting issues with the Canadian Banks and their “apps”:

  • TD has an iPad compatible app, as does Tangerine bank, and EQ Bank haven’t tested to see if the scan cheques capability works on either app
  • Simplii, Capital One and Amex all have iPhone apps, but nothing that runs on an iPad, currently
  • For those of you curious this site is supposed to be iPad compatible too.

Having iPhone compatible apps is fun, and convenient, an iPad version with a few more features would help consumers more (although you would be banking over very unsafe WiFi networks).

How did I deal with this shortcoming? I tweeted about it (naturally):

Amazing stuff. Boomer and Echo pointed out that ten years ago I wouldn’t be making these complaints, but I had a retort for that as well:

No answers to my tweets (yet), aside from TD favoriting my comment about how their app did work with an iPad.

This was written on an iPad using Microsoft Word, and OneDisk to store it, which was then transferred to my web site, convoluted, but it works (for now).

Do you use your Tablet for on-line banking? How about your Smart Phone?


Updated Tip: Scan those Bills

From 2013 back when bills were not sent via e-mail.

So one of the first useful tips I wrote about was To Scan All Your Bills. If you do, you didn’t necessarily need to keep paper copies of them.

I still to do this. I do keep paper copies as well, for these type of bills:

  • Tuition receipts for University and my son’s schooling
  • Utilities bills, as I do claim part of those as business expenses
  • etc.,

I no longer only save these images on my computer at home (which is being backed up). There are now many different services that offer free off-site backup of files such as:

  • Google drive, which comes with your Gmail account
  • Dropbox which is an app that runs on many devices
  • Outlook has file space for you
  • iCloud from Apple
  • Even Ubuntu One offers some free disk space

I am leery to use “the cloud” for this kind of storage. You need to encrypt them if you use these services. You never know who the heck might look at your files from elsewhere. Also be aware that clouds are not in Canada, so they have different “seizure” rules.

The interesting part about the scanning of my bills was that I did exactly that when I was asked for receipts from the CRA, and I sent them scans of the documents in question, and they seemed happy enough with that. My guess is if it was an actual audit, they would want to see the originals, but for a “request for receipts” the government seems happy enough with a scanned image now as well.

Unfortunately you need to keep your paper records for a while before you can safely dispose of them (i.e. shred and/or burn), but maybe we are finally getting away from paper copies of things?


Passwords Everywhere

Do you have a magic list of passwords for all of your various on line profiles? Do you have a system for changing your passwords often? Do you have the same password for all of you on line profiles?

If you answered Yes to the last question, allow me to say, “DON’T DO THAT!”, for the love of MyDoom, if any of the many sinister nasty folks on the Interweb get into one of your accounts, suddenly they are into all of them. I have talked about Financial On Line Security before, but this was triggered by yet another interesting discussion with Mrs. C8j.


Security Needs to be Watching

There is actually a very long list of different financial on-line profiles with user ids and passwords, but Mrs. C8j pointed out that she really should have access to this information in case of an emergency. My guess is that a solution to this will be to actually print out this information and put it in a safe deposit box or somewhere safe for her.

This is actually a terrible solution, because:

  • You should not have a file with this information on a computer anywhere (unless you have it under some kind of heavy encryption, but even then, that may not be that safe).
  • Printing it just means that it will be even less safe (paper is much easier to pilfer).
  • Printing the information means she has a snapshot, at that moment, however, when I change those passwords, the list is suddenly useless.

The other ideas like putting it on your cell phone is bad, because the phone is easily stolen, and putting it “in the cloud”, just makes it easier to find.

What is the best way to keep this information secure, while being able to share it (securely) for the “what if” scenario.


RDSP TD and a little progress

My struggles with TD/Waterhouse and their RDSP continues on, with a little progress thanks to a commenter to my previous post RDSP and TD Aggravations who suggested I was mistaken that I could in fact deposit money into the account via the TD/Waterhouse Phone interface.

I phone on Monday and sure enough I can transfer money into the account, but as usual not in a straight forward way. First I had to transfer money into my main trading account, which I haven’t used in years, and then from that account I could transfer cash into the RDSP account. I was quite happy that I could do that, and it did seem to happen quite quickly, so I was ready to invest the funds, using the on line interface.

A beautiful hand made clock

Time is on Your Side with an RDSP

However, that evidently, is a bit to straight forward for things, as I am blocked from doing anything on line with the account, other than look at the account balance. I may not have filled in the correct forms on this, not sure, but I must now call the TD/Waterhouse phone folks (again) to ask this very question, and if it is simply not allowed to trade on line, I will then find out whether this is something I can do on the phone. My guess would be, yes I can trade over the phone (or go into the bank), because (in my opinion) this means someone can put their Trading ID next to my purchases and get the commission from those trades (yes a very cynical view, and I will gladly retract it, if I can be proven wrong).

This means I will end up spending more time doing something that should have taken less than 5 minutes (so far I have spent over an hour fiddling with this thing, and my guess there is another 1/2 hour to be spent (at least) attempting to complete things by buying the securities I wish to add to this account).

Given this account is a very long term savings vehicle I am using a passive investment scheme (fashioned after one of the Canadian Capitalist’s original sleepy mini portfolios):

A Small Difference

Now the original Sleepy Mini-portfolio included TDB911 – International Equities and I may add some of this to the mix with this addition of funds, depending on how I feel.

Disclaimer:This is not a sales pitch or endorsement for this method or these funds, it is simply supplied as an example where I think it is a good place for a passive investment strategy using Index Funds.


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