In the age of auto bill pay, we’ve all become model citizens. It’s virtually impossible to send a late payment to anything (unless you do that thing where you get low on funds so you actually take time out of your day to log into your bank account to postpone one of your automatic payments. It defeats the purpose, but we all have good intentions).
But there remain a few institutions that linger in the dark ages of paper checks. For example: rental housing. You can have all of the utilities and bills on automatic payments, but you still have to mail out a rent check every month, which requires the use of stamps (?!), and an all too inconvenient walk to the mailbox. It’s bullshit!
But now, our friends at Personal Capital have devised a wonderful solution: a universal checkbook. Essentially, it turns writing checks into a form of mobile bill pay—but with paper checks. The launch of the universal checkbook also coincides with the launch of the new Personal Capital iPhone app.
So how do you mail electronic checks? The whole process is delightfully simple—so simple that I really wish it had been around two years ago when I was routinely mailing out late rent payments. You start by enrolling your checking account—which you can do by simply snapping a photo of one of your personal checks with your iPhone. With your checking account enrolled, you can select a “pay to” account, select the amount that you want to pay, and tap “pay.” Personal Capital handles the process of mailing out the paper check, which the recipient will have in their hands within five business days.
For a limited time, the universal checkbook is free.
Personal Capital likens its new iPhone app—which comes with the universal checkbook—to a remote control for your finances. Now you can keep track of your investments, monitor your cash flow and account balances, and move money all from your iPhone. The iPhone app follows the March launch of Personal Capital’s iPad app.
“There are good reasons to put your money in many different accounts – most people do,” said CEO Bill Harris, in a statement. “But to take control of your money, you want to view everything in one place, and do everything in one place. View and do.”
The company did not disclose how many users it now has, but a spokesperson did say that more than 10,000 people have aggregated their accounts with Personal Capital since the company’s launch last year.