In a bid to seal its ‘uncarrier’ status, a rebrand unveiled at CES as part of efforts to differentiate its service, T-Mobile had embarked on a mission to transform personal finance with the launch of a money management app with a prepaid card attached.
T-Mobile Wireless customers will be able to use the platform free of charge to cash cheques by taking a photo using their smartphone, withdraw cash from 42,000 participating cash machines and top up their card at its stores. The operator says it charges no maintenance fees, minimum balances or activation fees for users of its service. Non-T-Mobile customers will pay additional charges.
Aimed at the one in five - or 68m - unbanked people in the US, the service is poised to offer an alternative to payday loan and cheque-cashing firms, which cost users $1,500 every year to use. Prepaid cards can help people budget and prevent them dipping into their overdraft, something T-Mobile says costs $225 per year for the average family. Everyone from Google to Orange has attempted to add a prepaid card option to their payments armoury, with limited take up to date.
The service does rely on the user having access to an iOS or Android handset, something that up to a third of Americans still don't own - likely the same group as those without traditional banking services. Luckily, T-Mobile can also finance you to get that handset too...
“We’ve already transformed how Americans use and pay for phones, tablets and wireless service; why stop there?” said John Legere, president and chief executive officer of T-Mobile. “Millions of Americans pay outrageous fees to check cashers, payday lenders and other predatory businesses – just for the right to use their own money. Mobile Money shifts the balance of power for T-Mobile customers and keeps more money in their pockets.”
People can register online to get a card today, or they will be available to pick up from T-Mobile and Safeway stores.