UK cash machine network Link has signed up two of the UK's high street banks and four mobile operators, including Vodafone, to its MobileATM service which allows users to check bank accounts and purchase air time from their hand sets.
MobileATM - a joint venture set up in 2003 between Link and computer services company Morse - will be launched in the first quarter of 2005, according to a report by the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
The initial roll-out will involve two of the UK's biggest high street banks but as many as half of Britain's banks are expected to offer the service within 12 months.
The new service replicates the look of a cash machine screen on a mobile phone and offers many of the same functions - such as access to account balances - except the ability to withdraw cash. The system may be developed to include services such as mini bank statements - and potentially to extend overdrafts and transfer money to other people's accounts.
Users of the mobile networks involved will be able to activate the MobileATM service by texting a code to their bank. Two days later they will receive a single-use activation number in the post which will allow them to view their account balance using their mobile hand set using their normal PIN number.
Link says the service should be successful because its cash machines are currently used 60 million times a month for balance inquiries. The venture aims to take a small cut of mobile transactions, initially through the top-up service.
Link's existing mobile-top up service is available on 18,000 ATMs in the UK.