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T-Mobile takes on US banking market

22 January 2014  |  9757 views  |  7 T-Mobile MM

T-Mobile is bidding to shake up the US banking market with a new service which offers current account-style features to the country's millions of underbanked.

Mobile Money by T-Mobile combines a pre-paid Visa card, an app and the telco's extensive store network to provide customers with the services normally offered by banks.

Customers can buy their pre-paid cards - issued by the Bancorp Bank - in-store or online. They can then load money onto it instore, via direct debit from their paycheck or via mobile check deposit.

Once registered, the card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, to pay bills and withdraw cash charge-free at 42,000 ATMs. The accompanying mobile app lets users keep track of their balance and transaction history, transfer funds and find cash machines.

The telco is pitching its service to the 68 million Americans without traditional accounts, many of whom have to rely on fee-heavy alternatives such as cheque-cashing and payday lenders. The account has no minimum balance requirement and no charge for activation, monthly maintenance, or for replacing lost or stolen cards.

Mike Sievert, CMO, T-Mobile, says: "It's ridiculous that families, especially those who can least afford it, have to pay so much for basic check cashing services that many of us take for granted. Mobile Money levels the playing field to put money back in consumers' pockets for important things - like bills, groceries or vacations."

Comments: (7)

Mike McCormack
Mike McCormack - PALMA ADVISORS LLC - Fort Lauderdale | 22 January, 2014, 19:24

It is interesting that Visa keeps beating the other networks to the punch on these debit deals.   If the other networks want to break through they need to start to win some of these big ones with emerging companies.

 

 

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Jim Wells
Jim Wells - Wellspring Consulting International - Fort Lauderdale | 22 January, 2014, 21:32

Great idea targeting a huge opportunity. But, stupid to pit the new program against check cashers when hundreds of thousands of disillusioned depositors are leaving the banking industry every year. Many of these consumers are already adopting prepaid cards with mobile functionality and using check cashers for convenient, face-to-face service. -- Jim Wells

 

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Ganeshbabu Annamalai
Ganeshbabu Annamalai - SCB - Kualalumpur | 23 January, 2014, 05:11

Great idea. Telcos in developing & developed countries may adopt this idea to generate more revenues & profits, since there is market saturation and margin pressure in their core business. Also unbanked population is considerably high in these countries. Any innovative & cost effective banking solution will help the underprivileged people to get banking services.

 

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 23 January, 2014, 10:26

That is a new way for mobile networks to start making money! Great idea.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 23 January, 2014, 15:33

How is this any different from NetSpend, GreenDot, ...? In fact, by waiving fees for almost all activities, T-Mobile might shake up the prepaid card market dominated by NetSpend and GreenDot, which itself set out to shake up the check cashing market. 

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Mike Fromant
Mike Fromant - Contis Group Ltd - Skipton | 29 January, 2014, 08:50

Reading this story, I wonder if T-Mobile has missed a trick. It is widely accepted that consumers need more than just a new facility if they are to ‘go mobile’ with their financial behaviour and the provision of value added services (VAS) are commonly cited as the bonus that can trigger the change. Had T-Mobile taken the step to link their customers' accounts to a rewards or incentives programme that would generate cash back and receive discounts at popular stores, as some of the best e-money providers do, its offer to this demographic would be enhanced greatly. Waiving the fees is a good move but in the absence of additional incentives, it will be interesting to see how many people adopt the solution. Having invested the time, energy and money to bring this product to market, one wonders why they didn't go the extra mile.

Read more in my Finextra blog post: http://www.finextra.com/blogs/fullblog.aspx?blogid=8855

 

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 29 January, 2014, 10:34

There's this view that T-Mobile doesn't need to differentiate its core product offering and can still gain traction based on GTM differentiatiors like "45M existing customers, 70K stores and big mktg $$.". 

https://twitter.com/JimMarous/status/426777247073067008

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