Tom Gosling, CEO

(February 3, 2015)

Serving anyone who lives, works, attends school or worships in Berks County or is related by family to a current credit union member, Bellco Federal Credit Union was originally chartered in 1937. As a not-for-profit financial institution, we offer many affordable financial products and services; however, Bellco is a credit union that is constantly on the cutting edge.

Last spring Bellco launched a brand-new, consumer-friendly website with features including online account opening and online loan applications. In June, Bellco FCU partnered with BancVue, a groundbreaking, visionary company, to offer the Kasasa line of products to the Berks County community. Kasasa offers free checking accounts with perks such as high interest, cash back and iTunes or Amazon rewards. It also offers our members up to $20 in ATM fees refunded every month. Over 1,000 people opened Kasasa Rewards accounts in 2014 and are now experiencing the nationwide benefits. We have already paid those members over $30,000 in rewards.

Also, local auto dealers have teamed up with Bellco and helped us offer more great loans than ever to our existing and new members. Members have also learned that we now have over 5,200 nationwide shared branch locations that provide access to their account when/where needed. In 2015 we are introducing more products such as business accounts and business loans, Apple Pay, and mobile deposits. Bellco is determined to prove to the Berks County community we have all the financial products and services you need. Anything the mega banks do, we are already doing better--and with exceptional service!

Mobile Apps Enable Banking on the Go

Kelsey Sheehy, NerdWallet

Mobile Apps Enable Banking on the Go

Smartphones keep getting smarter. Now you can use your phone to stream live television, track your physical activity and measure air temperature. Advances in mobile technology are also making it easier to manage your money.

Financial institutions like Bellco Federal Credit Union now offer mobile apps that let you do much of your banking on the go. And a new string of virtual wallets, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, make paying for purchases more convenient and secure.

Mobile banking

Banking apps are now standard at most credit unions. And customers can use them to do a lot more than just check their balance.

Some common features include tracking spending habits to see just how much money you're giving Starbucks or Amazon; transferring money between accounts, a helpful feature to avoid overdrawing your checking account if you're short a few dollars; and paying bills, sending money to friends or depositing money by simply snapping a photo of the front and back of a check.

Mobile payments

Virtual wallets aim to eliminate the panic and embarrassment of standing at the checkout with an armful of groceries, only to realize you left your wallet at home.

To use a virtual wallet like Apple Pay or Android Pay, you first need to upload your credit or debit card details to your mobile billfold. The apps make it easy: You can use the camera on your phone, or enter your account number and expiration date the old-fashioned way, via the keyboard.

As you add each card, the app confirms whether your credit union or card issuer supports mobile payments through that tool. Apple Pay was the first on the market and is available through most credit unions. Those that offer Apple Pay will likely add Samsung Pay and Android Pay in the future.

Paying with your virtual wallet is as simple as holding your phone close to the point-of-sale terminal -- the device you would otherwise swipe your card through -- and selecting which card you want to use. Your phone beams payment information to the terminal, and in most cases asks you to confirm the payment with a personal identification number or a fingerprint scan.

This all happens thanks to a technology called near field communication, or NFC. Not all retailers are set up for NFC transactions just yet, so look for the Apple Pay or Android Pay icon when you check out.

Payment security

Mobile payments might seem like easy pickings for hackers, but purchases made via virtual wallets are actually more secure than those made with the swipe of a credit card. That's because Apple Pay and other providers shield your account information using a process called tokenization.

Each card in your virtual wallet gets a token, which acts as a proxy for your account number. When you use your phone to pay at a retailer like Whole Foods or Target, your credit or debit card number is not transmitted. Instead, the token is used to process the payment.

The bottom line

Mobile apps can make banking faster and more convenient and, in the case of virtual wallets, make payments more secure. These apps aren't fail proof, though. A lost or stolen phone could put your accounts at risk, so treat it like a stolen wallet and notify your credit union and card issuer. The good news is you won't necessarily need to wait for new cards to be mailed.

© Copyright 2015 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved