Mobile Banking your Bank on your Phone

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Mobile Banking is a value added service offered by a bank to enable customers conveniently and securely conduct their banking transactions on their mobile phone. A mobile banking platform will enable you transfer funds and check your account balance and statement without having to visit your bank. You can also buy airtime and pay utility bills with your mobile banking platform.

How does Mobile Banking work?

Depending on your bank, mobile banking services are offered mostly via a Java based application and/or SMS. Some banks will offer both options but others will only offer only one option. Java based mobile banking applications will require Java enabled mobile phones. So, they will not run on all types of phones. Even when a phone is Java enabled it may not even be able to support a Java based mobile banking app. If your bank offers Java app for mobile banking you can download it at the bank, OTA, or at their website.

Java based mobile banking apps are easier to use, because users can easily navigate their transactions through menus. Hence, users do not have to memorise SMS commands for transactions, making them more user friendly. Java banking platforms communicates with the bank via SMS or internet.

Mobile Banking apps may also be available for native platforms like Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, etc. Such mobile banking apps will also have the same ease of use advantage of Java based apps.

SMS based mobile banking platforms have the advantage of being platform neutral. They can be used on all types of phone and usually no download is required. However, you have to memorise codes required to engage in banking transactions. For example, Transfer 30000 1324 1234567890 could mean Transfer N30,000 to account number 1234567890. 1324 could be the PIN for autorising the transaction.

Mobile Banking usually works with your plastic payment card like InterSwitch or another payment card branded by your bank. You activate the service by entering details of your plastic card (ATM/debit card) into your phone following the instruction of your bank. After activating your card on your phone, you can start conducting transactions with your mobile banking platform.

Mobile Banking Services

As a minimum, most mobile banking platforms will enable you check your account balance and statements, as well as transfer funds within your accounts in the same bank. However, there are mobile banking platforms that claim to support fund transfer across different banks.

Your mobile banking platform can also be used to pay for services, especially services that you currently go to bank to pay for. Such services include utility bills (Electricity, Satellite, Water, etc) and taxes. You can also buy airtime of most networks via mobile banking. Services offered by mobile banking are limited compared to internet banking; this is due to the constraint posed by today's mobile phones.

How to get Mobile Banking

First you need to have an account with a bank. Like all other banking services, visit your bank to find out whether they offer mobile banking services and how you can join. Like we pointed out earlier, you will also need a payment card from your bank to activate your mobile banking platform. The customer care people at your bank will provide you with all the details you need.

Is Mobile Banking similar to Mobile Money?

Mobile Banking is different from mobile money. Although, some services can be paid for using your mobile banking platform, mobile money is a lot more versatile for making payments for goods and services. Mobile money enables you create an e-wallet on your phone for making payment and is not essentially tied to your bank account. In fact, you do not even need a bank account to use mobile money.

On the other hand, mobile banking cannot be used if you do not have a bank account. The two also have different objectives. Mobile banking is aimed at reducing congestion in banks by reducing the need of customers to visit the bank for every transaction. It focuses on enabling customers to handle transactions that would have brought them to bank on their mobile phone.

Mobile money is aimed at reducing the circulation of cash. It enables people pay for goods and services without need for cash. So, mobile banking is banking biased while mobile money is payment biased. However, both can converge or work hand in hand. For example, it could be possible to fund the mobile money e-wallet from your mobile banking platform.

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