Your Cell Phone Could Be Your New Bank – Literally
Imagine, you need details of your last few transactions, but are stuck in a traffic jam on way to the bank. How you wish you could get the details on your mobile phone!
Well, you really can ‘bank’ on your mobile phone today, provided you have opted for the service from your bank. Just SMS (short message service) your bank’s customer service number and get the details in a few seconds – that’s how simple it can get, if you have a mobile phone, a personal identification number and a phone banking number from your bank. It’s the same with paying utility bills, transferring money to someone, whether in your home country or abroad, and making a purchase at a retail store.
Most banks already allow customers to make basic transactions over the phone. Banking might be getting a little easier than that. One of the largest banks, recently announced plans for a mobile banking service. To use the service, mobile users download an application to their cell phones, just like you would for a game or song, and use their cell phones to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, or even find an ATM.
Having the ability to bank using a cell phone is an innovative idea, but will it make it easier for consumers to pay their bills? Perhaps. If your credit card payment is due today, this mobile banking service might allow you to pay it the second you remember it, rather than risk a late payment due to forgetfulness.
So far, the systems are free for banking customers if they have a phone with data capability and a large enough screen to display a few lines of information. There is a charge though for the various services for data plan on phones, or customers can pay a one-time use fee each session, typically a few cents.
To address security worries of customers, the company working with banks to produce the system, does not send any personal information through wireless networks. It does not send account numbers, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.
If a phone is lost, customers can call their bank and customer service staff can “kill” the application in about five seconds.
The first such systems have ironed out the wireless technology to the point that sending money or looking up account balances takes just a few button clicks and is roughly as easy as scrolling through a phone’s address book to make a call.
The cell phone is now a ubiquitous device, says a senior banking analyst and consumers are much more familiar with using self-service applications. Plus, you now can do more through your cell phone than what mobile banking traditionally has allowed, such as receiving text message alerts from your bank or locating the nearest branch or ATM.
You can check account balances before say, withdrawing cash at the ATM. You also can see if a transaction has cleared, pay bills on the go and transfer money between accounts.
For all that, however, mobile banking is currently seen as just one of the value added services provided by banks. However, it is just a matter of time before it becomes the preferred mode of conducting banking or financial transactions.