A few years ago while reading Barry Ritholtz's blog, he had a list of easy things you could do to make your life better (can't find the article - you will have to believe me). One of the items on the list was to convert every payment and bill method in your personal life to an electronic platform. I decided to do it and boy am I glad I did.
Setting up everything is a bit of a hassle. You have to be patient, and it does take a little time, but your bank likely will have some sort of platform that allows you to do this for free. When you get a bill that you pay monthly, such as your utilities, mortgage, credit card, or whatever, you simply set it up for electronic payment.
You can use the option of automatically paying them, but I don't go that far. I like to verify all of the purchases before I hit the "pay" button. The statement comes electronically and you just pull up the pdf and scan it to make sure all of the charges are legit and then hit pay. No more writing checks and affixing stamps.
I found out after a while that I was having a hard time doing business with companies that didn't offer electronic commerce. It is a huge time saver and I haven't had any security issues as of yet.
Whenever someone pays my wife or our farm for beef or whatever, I am able to simply take a picture of the check and it is deposited. Again, free. No special trip to the bank. I can't remember the last time I actually went to the bank for anything.
Recently I saw an ad on TV for the Gyft app. It is basically an electronic way to send gift cards to anyone with a cell phone. Recently, one of my kids picked up the winter's worth of dog poop - that job had a nice reward attached. As we were watching TV, I asked her if she would be my guinea pig and accept a gift card instead of ca$h. She said sure. So I hooked up the Gyft app, and sent her a Starbucks gift card across the room to her phone. She instantly got it and was pretty happy. It worked seamlessly.
I can see using Gyft for lots of different applications, however I have a hard time imagining how it could be used in a restaurant setting. Starbucks is one thing, where they can scan my daughters smart phone while she is in line, but if you are dining at Ruth's Chris or wherever, do you give your phone to the waiter to scan? That is an odd situation to be sure.
Anyways, the Gyft app is very cool and helps you avoid clumsy cards that will get lost - and if you receive a gift card that is supported by a merchant that Gyft does business with, you can upload those to your phone and toss the physical card. Again, crappy in a restaurant situation, but if you get an Amazon or other store gift card it avoids you losing the card.