T-Mobile isn’t just content being your wireless carrier. It now wants to manage your checking account, too.
The company announced today Mobile Money, a free checking account service available to anyone with a T-Mobile phone number.
With T-Mobile’s Mobile Money, your wireless carrier is your bank. T-Mobile retail stores are your banking branches. T-Mobile retail employees are your tellers. And while it sounds bizarre, it’s just another example of a company trying to remove the banks from banking. (Mobile Money is very similar to Simple, another promising alternative banking service.)
Here’s how it works:
- You walk into a T-Mobile store and open your checking account with an initial cash deposit. T-Mobile gives you a prepaid Visa card. (You’ll eventually get your own debit card with your name on it.)
- You deposit cash to your account at the T-Mobile store and checks by snapping a photo of the document using the T-Mobile Mobile Money app for iPhone or Android.
- To get cash, you can make withdrawals (no fees!) from a network of 42,000 ATMs that you can find using the app. There’s also a network of international ATMs that you can use for free.
- You can transfer money to other Mobile Money customers using the app if you have the person’s T-Mobile phone number and last four digits of his or her debit card.
- You pay your bills electronically using the app or T-Mobile’s website. You can also have T-Mobile cut a check and send it to someone if that’s your only option.
Mobile Money is totally free except for the occasional fee you might have to pay for stuff like same-day bill payments.
But it’s not for everyone, of course. T-Mobile is only offering free checking, not savings accounts or any of the other premium services traditional banks offer. It’s simply an option for T-Mobile customers who want to easily move money in their checking accounts around. If you need more than that, you’re probably better off with your regular bank.
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