Smartphone Owners, T-Mobile Wants to be Your Bank

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T-Mobile's latest tactic to bring in new smartphone customers isn't more talk minutes for less, or lower iPhone prices. The company instead is looking to be your bank.

T-Mobile to customers: We want to be your bankT-Mobile to customers: We want to be your bank

As part of a new service called Mobile Money, T-Mobile is targeting people that either don't have bank accounts, or have limited banking services available and rely on check cashing services. That's a market that just so happens to make up many of T-Mobile's customer base.

The plan requires customers to buy a smartphone and as part of the deal they get a pre-paid Visa debit card, along with other bank services such as online bill paying, direct deposit, and check cashing, and they won't have to pay the usual service fees traditional banks charge. Right now, subscribers can reload their Visa debit card at T-Mobile stores, but that will include Safeway stores come February.

For T-Mobile, the plan could draw in customers that haven't been able to get banking services elsewhere, and could give existing customers relying on check cashing services a new reason to stay.

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T-Mobile is the 4th largest carrier in the U.S., and isn't gaining very much ground on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Offering banking services may not be a conventional move for a cell service company, but T-Mobile isn't exactly in a position to play by the conventional rules.

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This type of service, cell phone banking, cell phone bill paying, etc., is huge in the third world.


It can also very profitable.  I hope T-Mobile doesn’t turn this into a price-gouging exercise that takes advantage of the least financially sophisticated segment of society.  (Remember the Kardashian debit card?)  Not that I think they will.


When I saw the photo I thought it was going to be a cash-back/airline miles-type of scheme where you would get minutes or credit toward T-mobile plans for using the T-mobile Visa. That might not be a bad idea.

Lee Dronick

Perhaps it would be a good gift for a student.


It’s pretty big in Japan too…

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