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."