RIA Rising

For Fidelity IRAs, the Check Is in the Cloud

You can’t very well tell the IRS that their check is in the mail. But a new iPad application by Fidelity Investments allows investors to make deposits into Fidelity IRAs via the Apple tablet. Taxpayers can use the iPad camera to photograph their check and electronically transmit the imaged deposit to their IRA or brokerage account.

That’s right—the check is in the Cloud, as financial planning tech consultant Bill Winterberg of FPPad says.

Time is usually of the essence where IRA contributions are concerned. Fidelity says about 45 percent of annual IRA payments are made within the 28 days leading up to the April tax deadline. Most folks often wait until the last minute to file their taxes, so maneuvering a tax-deductable IRA payment as part of the return can be complicated.

“Many times the alternative is you have to go to the post office, you have to get a certified receipt so you can prove you sent (the contribution) at a specific date and time,” Winterberg says. Sending the contribution via iPad “really beats the alternative” of a last-minute dash to the post office, he adds.

The iPad camera is not “super high-quality,” and sometimes requires multiple shots to get a crisp image, Winterberg says. He thinks that may be resolved with the release, as early as next week, of the iPad3, the next generation tablet. Investors seem to prefer the iPad to smartphones for many financial activities.

Mobile check deposit technology has been around for about a year, Winterberg says, but Fidelity says it’s the first major online brokerage to offer the service to retail investors through iPad. It appears to be the case where Fidelity’s custodian competitors are concerned.

Pershing’s iPad functions don’t include check deposit capability. TD Ameritrade doesn’t have it either. Schwab spokeswoman Jennifer Davis said the company hasn’t received much demand for mobile deposit using iPad, but that may change when it upgrades to a 2-megapixel camera.

Fidelity’s National Financial recently upgraded its myStreetscape platform for retail investors that allows more client access to accounts via smartphones. Late last year Fidelity said National Financial will also launch a new iPad app for broker/dealer advisors in the first quarter of this year, with iPad use for investors following later in the year.

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