Canadian credit unions Coast Capital Savings (CCS) and Mount Lehman are piloting an SMS-based mobile banking service that enables customers to check balances and view recent transactions.
The credit unions are trialling the service - which they claim is the first of its kind in the country - in partnership with Credit Union Central of British Columbia, a trade association and central banker.
Once registered, customers can text their credit union to obtain account information. Further account management options, including text alerts, may be added in the future, says CCS.
The system is designed to work with phones from Canadian mobile operators Rogers Wireless, Fido and Virgin Mobile, among others. CSS says the service is free although customers may incur charges from their mobile operator for sending and receiving messages.
Gene Blishen, general manager, Mount Lehman CU, says: "Text banking is simple, quick and convenient and is a powerful tool which will provide our members with another option to manage their finances and to stay connected."
"Unlike other types of mobile banking and online banking, the great thing about text-based banking is that you don't need Internet access to use this service," adds Wendy Lachance, manager, e-business development, Coast Capital Savings. "Customers will find text-based banking more accessible and convenient than other banking channels for simple account queries,"
The credit unions cite stats from Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) which says 10.1 billion person-to-person text messages were sent during 2007 in the country - a 133% rise on the previous year.
Peter Barnes, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), says the SMS banking service demonstrates the potential Canadian companies have to tap texting as an added customer service channel and a way to engage with the market.