Mobile phone customers will be able to check their bank balances and top up their pre-pay accounts using their phones, under a service due to be launched later this year by UK banks and mobile phone operators.
The service will use SMS messaging for billing and GPRS or Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) technology for online access. Transactions will be routed through the Link cash machine network in real time.
The main mobile operators have given their support to the proposed service, while discussions are going on with the high-street banks, said Scott Housley, head of corporate affairs for Link, which is working with Mchex, a subsidiary of mobile supplier Morse, to develop the service.
Transactions will be encrypted using the Triple Des encryption standard used by the Link network.
“We’re looking for an initial pilot with one bank and one operator to test the balance enquiry,” said Housley. “It’s another example of mobile commerce benefiting the consumer.”
One possible future application for the service could be to use it for making person-to-person payments via mobile phones.
Pre-pay mobile users can already top-up their accounts at ATMs. The top-up facility will appear as another option on the ATM screen, with amounts debited from the customer's bank account in the same way as a cash withdrawal.
Pre-pay phone users of Orange, T-mobile, Virgin and 02 have linked their systems to the service, which was launched in 2002 and first revealed by Computer Weekly. Earlier this month, Royal Bank of Scotland became the second high-street bank to offer the service to its customers.