EC directive 2000/46 will allow mobile operators to become electronic money institutions, which means they will be able to operate virtual current accounts without the need to apply for a banking licence.
The directive is expected to be passed by July 2002, allowing operators such as Orange and Vodafone to challenge traditional high street banks in the financial services market.
Both companies have registered banking domain names: orange-bank.com and vodafone-bank.com.
"I cannot really see people using a banking service without the actual brand name of a bank behind it - they will feel uncomfortable," said Mark Simmons, financial services analyst at Bloor Research.
"However it is another channel in the market and the consumer will benefit from more competition," he added. "It will also create competition between the banks as they try to get into bed with the operators and benefit from some of their technical know-how."