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T-Mobile Enters Banking Business

Bellevue, Wash. – T-Mobile entered the banking business with a MobileMoney service that provides banking services for subscribers on qualifying rate plans.

Mobile Money is positioned as an affordable alternative to checking fees for about 68 million adults who do not have traditional bank accounts and have to rely on alternative financial services such as check-cashing services and pay-day lenders, the company said. It will also benefit consumers who currently pay high overdraft and monthly maintenance fees through bare-bones checking accounts, T-Mobile added.

The services include a money-management smartphone app for use with a reloadable T-Mobile Visa Prepaid Card that offers many reduced-fee or no-cost services. Advantages include no card-activation charge and no fees for monthly maintenance, in-network ATM withdrawals, or replacing lost or stolen cards. No minimum balances are required.

The accounts offer such traditional checking-accounts services as direct deposit of paychecks, depositing checks from capable smartphone cameras, making retail purchases, paying bills and withdrawing cash from more than 42,000 in-network ATMs nationwide .

 The new service “can free people from excessive fees they often pay to use their own money,” T-Mobile said.

 Consumers can register starting today for a prepaid card at Cards will also be available in participating T-Mobile stores, and beginning in February, cards will be available in Safeway stores in the United States.

 “The typical household using a check casher to cash their paychecks could save about $1,500 per year, and customers tired of getting hit with overdraft fees can switch and save an average of $225 a year,” said chief marketing officer Mike Sievert.

T-Mobile said it isn’t new to the personal finance business because it already gives customers subscribers the option of financing smartphone purchases through no-interest loans.