Barclays launches mobile banking service in India

Barclays launches mobile banking service in India

UK bank Barclays has launched a mobile banking service in India that enables customers to transfer funds, pay bills and make account enquiries using their handsets.

The new m-banking service - called Hello Money - will cost customers Rs30 a month.

Customers signed up to the service dial a number before entering a PIN and choosing the option they want from a Hindi or English menu.

Hello Money is available through all GSM handsets on the Airtel, Vodafone and Idea networks in 40 Indian cities. The bank is looking to extend the service to CDMA handsets in the future.

Barclays says the system - which is based on 'unstructured supplementary service data' (USSD) technology - is easier to use than SMS and GPRS mobile banking services, which often involve several steps such as application downloads and can be costly as customers are charged for SMS or GPRS subscription every time they use the service.

The bank says its new m-bankig system can bring financial services to India's 184 million unbanked population.

"Easy access to banking has positive transformational effects as it opens up the financial system to formerly excluded segments of the population," says Ahmed Khizer Khan, CEO, emerging markets, Barclays Global Retail & Commercial Banking.

The UK-based bank only has a handful of branches in India and will be hoping the new service helps it crack the vast market.

Mobile banking is gaining momentum in India, with the country coming top of a Asia Pacific survey on wireless banking by Sybase 365 last year.

The study found that 81% of Indian respondents are aware they can check bank balances on a mobile phone, while 49% have used the services in the last three months - the highest amongst the five countries surveyed in the region.

ICICI Bank launched a mobile banking platform in India last year, whilst UK mobile phone operator Vodafone has stated that it will launch a money transfer service which allows consumers to send funds using SMS text messages, in the country.

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