Sunday, January 30, 2011

E-Money Coming To A Phone Near You

Many of us are getting extremely dependent on our mobile phones. Not only do we rely on them to store our appointments and meetings, we use the phones to navigate to those meetings. In route we can check the weather, our stock portfolio, update our “Facebook” page and see how the Bengals are doing in the fourth quarter. Oh yes, we can also call ahead and tell the person we are meeting that we have been so busy doing all of the above that we will be a little late for the meeting! Smart phones have become the “Swiss Army Knife” of the digital age.

Well, get ready for the next “killer app” and this one will perhaps be one of the most revolutionary. Mobile Banking has been available for years in Japan and in several other countries around the world. It has been especially embraced in many developing countries where the brick and mortar banking industry has yet to take root for the general public. These counties, like Kenya, do have very robust mobile telephone networks. Up until now, in the United States the concept of using your cell phone to transfer money, pay bills and make retail purchases has not been embraced. That is changing and changing fast.

Recently, Fifth Third Bank announced that it was launching “CashEdge” in mid 2011. According to press releases from Fifth Third Bank, “CashEdge” is an email and mobile person-to-person payment service. It will allow bank customers to send money from their mobile device, by using a recipient's email, mobile number or bank account information.

Other banks have announced services that will turn your mobile phone into a digital wallet. Instead of swiping that credit card at Biggs, just press “send” on the phone and the money is transferred. Your kid away at college needs a few bucks for pizza? No worries, just email him $20. Or Not!

Of course the money is not actually stored in your phone for some miscreant to remove from your purse, the funds are in your bank account, or in the “cloud” as we now say. Sure hope it doesn’t start raining.


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