T-Mobile is bringing its prepaid, contract-free phone model to banking. It introduced a “Mobile Money” service Wednesday, offering basic banking services via a prepaid Visa card and a new smartphone app with the same name.
Customers can deposit checks via the app, pay bills, transfer money to other card holders and withdraw cash from 42,000 in-network ATMs without facing a fee. Non-T-Mobile subscribers will face small fees, such as a $5 monthly account fee and an initial $4 cost to purchase the card. The mobile phone carrier is touting the service as an alternative to pricey fees from check cashing, payday lenders and “other predatory businesses.”
“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,” Mike Sievert, chief marketing officer for T-Mobile, said in a statement announcing the service. “Mobile Money levels the playing field to put money back in consumers’ pockets for important things – like bills, groceries or vacations.”
The prepaid Visa card will act the same as any prepaid card, allowing users to shop as they normally would online or at a retail store. A PIN will allow for cash back at retail locations, as well as ATM access.
Customers could sign up for the service online Wednesday or in T-Mobile retail locations. It will also available in Safeway stores beginning in February.
The Mobile Money App is available in the App Store or Google Play.