I tangled myself in a web of mobile finance and it nearly got me in trouble

4 October 2018

I do everything in my financial life through my mobile phone. From current to savings accounts and credit cards and reward cards, I have turned my money fully digital and I find it makes managing money much easier.

Until, that is, my phone broke.

Things began to unravel quite quickly. One Saturday afternoon, the screen of my shiny, three-month-old handset suddenly started breaking out in blue blotches. By Sunday morning the screen had blacked out completely, rendering the phone useless.

I tramped up and down Oxford Street in central London to each EE store, trying to get help (who knew there are seven EE shops around the street?) Unfortunately, all but one had no stock of spare phones.

The last shop I arrived at gave me an incredibly old phone to use, while sending mine away for repair.

At least I could now make phone calls. But, the device was so retro that none of my banking apps would download onto it. This was a disaster.

Now, in channelling my finances through my handheld device, I have made controlling my money easier than ever.

I divvy up my money in a similar way to my grandma. She puts her various budgets into envelopes. I do the same, but with different mobile banking apps.

So, each month I transfer my ‘day-to-day’ money to my Monzo account. This was now impossible.

It is so easy, and theoretically secure, to access banking apps on your phone using just a fingerprint. But when that access falls away, things become a lot trickier.

Because Monzo’s customer service is all channelled through the app, my only recourse for contact was via Twitter.

When my phone broke, things began to unravel quite quickly

After pleading for help, Monzo revealed to me that it has a super-secret way to access its accounts online. The bank says this is only for emergencies (like mine), however. The major drawback is that the only thing this desktop version lets you do is check your balance and freeze your card.

The next issue I had was accessing my main current account, a B Account from Yorkshire Bank. To get into the desktop online banking I needed a customer number. I had no idea what that was.

Until now, all I had ever needed to log in was my fingerprint.

Fortunately, the bank had a very friendly and competent person on the phone who helped me find this number.

This process I then repeated with my credit cards and other accounts – just to simply gain access and check my balances.

The major flaw in this system was that this all required phone calls to resolve. I was fortunate that my mobile service provider gave me a spare phone to use. Without it, I would have been faced with my finances being thrown into further disarray through lack of control.

My only other recourse would have been to buy a spare phone, a less than ideal situation (thanks for nothing, friends who don’t have spare phones).

While ultimately my finances have not been negatively affected (the phone was thankfully repaired under warranty), it pokes a hole in the logic of funnelling your entire financial life into a mess of mobile apps on one device.

I have learnt my lesson about putting too much reliance on my mobile. Thankfully, I now know what to do should I get myself into this sticky situation again.

And before you ask, no, I have never had a landline in my house. Never met a millennial who does.

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