After announcing a number of "uncarrier" campaigns, what's T-Mobile's next step? Apparently, becoming a bank. The carrier today announced Mobile Money, a way for users to manage their finances. The scheme combines a money management app with a prepaid T-Mobile Visa card, offering "$0 cost" services to existing T-Mobile wireless users.
Clearly targeted at the bottom of the financial ladder, for those who don't currently have checking accounts, the services offered by T-Mobile don't stray too far from those found in regular accounts. Users will be able to deposit paychecks, pay for items, withdraw cash from ATMs, pay bills, and use their smartphone's camera to deposit checks to their accounts. There are no minimum balance requirements, and T-Mobile says there are no fees for in-network ATM withdrawals, replacing lost or stolen cards, activation, or monthly maintenance.
"The typical household using a check casher to cash their paychecks could save about $1,500 per year."
T-Mobile believes the account offers "a sensible and affordable alternative to checking fees for the roughly 68 million Americans who do not have traditional accounts," adding that Mobile Money could also be useful to parents sending their children away to college. T-Mobile's chief marketing officer Mike Sievert says the service could save the "typical household" using a check casher to cash their paychecks "about $1,500 per year."
Interested users can register for Mobile Money now, and the cards will also be available from Safeway stores across the US starting February. Speaking about the launch, T-Mobile CEO John Legere notes "millions of Americans pay outrageous fees to check cashers, payday lenders and other predatory businesses – just for the right to use their own money." He believes that the scheme "shifts the balance of power for T-Mobile customers and keeps more money in their pockets."