The Commonwealth Bank may become the first to launch a mobile phone banking service called MobileBank based on short message service technology using a new model Ericsson or Nokia mobile fitted with a special access card.
Customers will then be able to check account balances, transfer funds and pay their bills on-screen at the cost of 24 cents per text message. Other services to be included at a later stage are share trading, notification of salary payments and approaching credit limits.
Other banks such as the ANZ, Westpac and National Australia Bank are also preparing to launch mobile banking. They will base their service on wireless application protocol (WAP) because of the wide range of devices it allows other than mobile phones, and the added benefit of encryption.
Earlier this month Cable & Wireless Optus launched Australia's first Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). WAP allows users to access the Internet through their mobile phones to provide the latest news, sports results, weather, horoscopes, check out stock prices on the share market and even read, reply and send emails.
Already available, C&W Optus GSM customers can access the service by purchasing a new WAP phone for $865 per handset, or for $249 if you sign up for the Optus ‘yes' plus 55 plan.
C&W Optus also has plans to expand its services later next year to include transaction services such as ticketing and banking services with the ability to transfer money into the user's bank accounts.
Vodafone previously launched a mobile phone banking service based on SMS in Britain. They believe the service will provide for better security than WAP.
Although the Commonwealth Bank is yet to offer a firm date for the roll-out of MobileBank, the ability to conduct banking transactions via mobile phones is a subject bound to create a great deal of interest given it’s no secret that Australians love new technology.