Article Written By: Kyle Kunnen | SVP, Information Security Officer | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Mobile devices have become a significant part of our lives. It wasn’t that long ago, cell phones were a privilege afforded by only a few. Today, virtually everyone carries a mobile device. The allure of always being connected and immediate access to virtually anyone or everything is immense. This additional access while great is not free from risk. Because we use our mobile devices to shop, bank and conveniently access private information, it has become even more imperative to take added precaution. Whether it is a cell phone, tablet, or other mobile device, they typically have the ability to enable a screen locking feature. Enabling this feature not only requires a code for entry, it also encrypts the contents stored on the device. This is a great first step in securing your mobile device providing assurance your information remains protected if lost or stolen.
Below are some additional items to consider as you use your mobile device:
- Never jailbreak your mobile device – While it seems to add functionality to bypass restrictions set by the manufacturer, it also greatly diminishes the devices security.
- Only use device approved app stores – The Google Play or Marketplace and Apple’s App Store. Other places exist to download apps that appear to be the same as those found in the traditional app stores, but are often repackaged solutions with malicious intent.
- Remove no longer used applications – This will not only free up space, but reduce the number of possible applications that could someday become a vulnerability.
- Keep your device operating system and apps updated – Vendors often release patches to add new features or functionality. In addition, they often deliver important fixes to known security issues. For convenience, you can configure your device to apply these updates automatically when they become available.
Check back next week for more information on the next Mercantile Bank Security Minute.
Article Written By: John Schulte| SVP, Chief Information Officer| Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Just in time for the holidays, when finances and overspending can be stressful, the new Cash Flow module is now live in our online management tool, MercMoney®. The Cash Flow module offers an easy way to project out your income/expenses (and replace the old checkbook register).
MercMoney® is integrated into our online banking system and is a great way to empower you to take control of your finances and simplify your life. Budgeting, account aggregation and debt management are a just a few of the tools available, and best of all it’s free with any Mercantile checking or savings account.
It’s easy to set up MercMoney® and the Cash Flow module with a set-up wizard that identifies most re-occurring transactions, allows you to choose/edit future dated transactions and search history for other re-occurring items the wizard may miss. The wizard makes it easy (5-10 minutes) to replace a work intensive spreadsheet or manual process cash flow tracking process.
This module works both for people who want an easy, casual estimate of their cash flow and for those who keep detailed records. It can replace your current checkbook register, spreadsheet, Quicken or paper reconciliation process – with an automated and more efficient cash projection. The mobile version of this module is expected to be released in early 2017 so you can budget while on the go.
If you would like more information on MercMoney® and the new Cash Flow module visit https://www.mercbank.com/electronic/merc-money.asp or stop in to any of our branches.
Mobile Wallets are quickly becoming a more accepted and preferred method of payment for consumers wanting to utilize their smartphones for purchases. Recognizing this growing interest and demand, Mercantile Bank has announced partnerships with multiple industry- leading Mobile Wallet providers bringing flexibility and choices to its customers. The bank has partnered with Visa Checkout, Google Wallet, PayPal, and coming soon, Apple Pay.
John Schulte, SVP Chief Information Officer at Mercantile Bank states, “We consider the Mobile Wallet as simply another extension of the opportunities that mobile devices bring to us in providing our customers with convenient ways to manage all of their financial needs. We’ve already prioritized the mobile channel as a strategic investment for the bank’s future, because we want to offer our customers the best package of convenience and personal service possible.”
With the rapidly changing landscape of mobile wallets, each mobile wallet provider is evolving to bring unique features to their wallet solution such as added security, integrated reward programs, and ease of checkout. The most recent development is with Apple Pay.
Apple Pay is used with iPhone 6 to pay in stores without swiping your cards and in apps without entering payment and contact information. Just pay with a single touch of your ﬁnger using Touch ID.
With Apple Pay, instead of using your actual credit and debit card numbers when you add your card, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored. And when you make a purchase, the Device Account Number alongside a transaction-speciﬁc dynamic security code is used to process your payment. So your actual credit or debit card numbers are never shared by Apple with merchants or transmitted with payment.
“Mercantile Bank’s goal with Mobile Wallet solutions is to curate for our customers the best set of choices to match their unique needs, and make them seamlessly integrate into Mercantile Bank’s existing mobile and online banking tools. As always, we want to match these new tools with the best local banking support available when you need it. Having choices means no compromises are required. Our customers get to pick which mobile wallet(s) fit their financial needs, purchasing habits, and lifestyle.” said Schulte.
About Mercantile Bank Corporation
Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mercantile Bank Corporation is the bank holding company for Mercantile Bank of Michigan. Mercantile provides banking services to businesses, individuals and governmental units, and differentiates itself on the basis of service quality and the expertise of its banking staff. Mercantile has assets of $2.9 billion and operates 53 banking offices serving communities in central and western Michigan. Mercantile Bank Corporation’s common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “MBWM.”
Article Written By: Zach Roth | Creative Media Specialist | Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Budgeting is not easy. The best intentions of saving and taking financial control can quickly become forgotten as old spending patterns creep their way back into your routine. Instead of attempting to take on your budget all by yourself, why not utilize available tools and resources to help keep you on track? Mercantile Bank of Michigan offers a variety of tools and services to assist you in taking control of your finances.
1. Track Your Spending
Maintaining an awareness of where your money is going is a great place to start. You’re able to notice spending patterns that you may not have even been aware of. Seeing just how much your morning coffee is costing you over the course of a month can be shocking. Changing the coffee routine from daily to weekly can have a significant impact on your savings over the course of a year.
Mercantile Bank’s MercMoney application tracks all of your spending for you. Any purchases you make are immediately categorized. The application displays your spending habits in charts and lists that help you to visualize where your money is going.
2. Build a Budget
Clearly seeing your spending habits can help you find areas where you might like to make changes. Giving yourself a budget for various expenses will allow you to stay in control of your spending. Once again, the MercMoney application is a great tool to create and maintain a budget. You’re able to set different budgets within each expense category. The app can send you notifications via text or email when you are nearing your spending limit within a category. If you need to make any adjustments to your budget throughout the year, it is easy to make changes.
3. Pay Yourself
Saving money can be difficult, especially if you have to make the decision each month of how much to put away. When money gets tight, it becomes easy to procrastinate on your own savings. Why not take the decision out of your hands? If you set up an automated transfer into a savings account, you will no longer have to continually decide if you can afford to pay yourself. Set a reasonable amount and you won’t even notice the movement of funds. By the end of the year you will have built up your savings account without even realizing it.
It’s easy to manage your accounts with Mercantile’s Internet Banking. Setting up a recurring transfer between your accounts is a simple and convenient way to make sure your savings grows.
4. Be Aware
Having an awareness of your budgets and balances helps you to stay on top of executing your financial plan. MercMobile is a great way to maintain that awareness no matter where you are. If you are in a store contemplating a purchase, it may be helpful to check your account balance from your phone before making a decision. The MercMobile app is free and can be quickly downloaded from your favorite app store. Don’t have a Smartphone? That’s ok, we also offer Mobile Web Banking and Text Banking so you can always get balances on the go.
5. Be Intentional
Taking the first step to set up a budget is necessary. However, your efforts are meaningless if you are unable to follow through with your budget. Gaining the self-discipline to adhere to a budget can be incredibly challenging. You may find yourself struggling to stay within your spending limits. Mercantile Bank’s Reloadable Cards may be a helpful resource for staying on track. For example, say that you are regularly exceeding your spending limit for groceries. Unnecessary items continue to catch your eye and cause you to overspend. You may find that putting your allotted grocery money on a Reloadable Card will help you to gain the self-discipline you need. Knowing that there is only so much on the card can serve as your continual reminder to stick to the plan.
For more information on these financial tools and more, visit us at www.mercbank.com.
Article Written By: Damaris Olaechea from NerdWallet | www.NerdWallet.com
Since many are unfamiliar with money management tools, how about an analogy to help elucidate this mysterious new tool? A weight scale is intimidating in its simplicity: you step on it, and in three figures you (perhaps regrettably) see the cumulative efforts of munching on midnight snacks and not exercising. No matter how painfully blunt a weight scale can be, we can all agree that it’s a helpful tool to guide you towards a healthier lifestyle.
Personal financial management tools, also called PFMs, are a lot like that intimidating weight scale. PFMs also display figures, but instead of measuring your weight they measure your financial health. Like the weight scale, PFMs figures are useful tools for helping you maintain a healthier lifestyle. However, unlike the weight scale, the PFM will aid your financial health. One beautiful difference between the two is that PFMs can be accessed anywhere you go via your mobile phone.
About 90% of mobile banking users access mobile banking to check account balances or recent transactions. With mobile PFMs, not only can you to track your balances and expenses, but you can also track any existing debt, anticipate upcoming bills, and manage your savings. They offer valuable insights to help anyone looking to prepare for retirement, build emergency savings or guide themselves out of a nasty fiscal hole.
If you’re looking to get a better grip on your spending habits, or are trying to follow a budget to the cent, you’d do well to use a mobile PFM. Below you’ll find a few examples of the benefits provided by PFMs.
1. At A Glance Reports
Most PFMs use simple graphs or lists to show you how much spending money you have available, how much you owe, and how much you’ve budgeted. This spares you the time and trouble of thumbing though line-by-line reports when you’re ready to make a purchase, but aren’t sure if you have the funds.
2. Budget Tools
Nearly all PFMs come with some kind of budgeting tool. After all, if there’s one tried and true method of careful financial planning, it’s closely monitoring your budget. You also have the added benefit of receiving alerts via text message or email when you’re approaching your budget limits.
3. Money-flow Monitoring
One of the better features of advanced PFMs is the ability to see where you spend most of your money. This can help the conscious consumer redistribute their funds if their spending isn’t aligning with their budget.
4. Portfolio Management
Have you made investments in the stock market? Do you hold accounts in more than one place? Would you like to know how your balances are contributing to your retirement? Well, some PFMs allow you to monitor your portfolios directly through the app. Some even allow you to examine individual investments and their performance.
While PFM tools can be extremely useful, they aren’t without certain concerns. Third party PFMs, for example, do require you give them your financial account information, including passwords.
If you’re afraid of using a third party for this reason, don’t fret. You’re actually in good company. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, 75 percent of consumers would prefer to use a PFM tool provided by their own financial institution. Fortunately, many banks have their own PFMs for customers to use. Try Mercantile Bank’s MercMoney tool to see how it can help you meet your financial goals.
PFMs are a promising tool to keep track of your financial accounts. However, like the weight scale, PFMs are only effective when they’re being used with a goal in mind. After all, no one ever lost weight just by stepping on a weight scale. Take the time to determine what your financial goals are, use a PFM to help keep you on track, and watch your financial health improve!