UK mobile phone users could soon be able to check their bank balances using their handset in an initiative from the Link cash machine network.
Topping up pre-pay mobiles is to spread to more ATMs
The initial roll-out will involve two of the UK's High Street banks and four mobile operators.
The intention is for users to see a tiny version of a cash machine screen on their handsets.
MobileATM, a joint venture between computer services company Morse and Link, will start in 2005.
In time, the service is intended to extend the number of Link machines offering top-ups for pre-paid mobile phones as well.
Freeing up cash machines
Link, which is owned by 22 financial institutions, hopes the service will be successful because cash machines are used 100 million times a month for balance enquiries.
The mobile venture aims to make money by taking a small cut of mobile transactions, such as the mobile top-up service, to begin with.
Users of several mobile networks, including Vodafone, will be able to activate the MobileATM service by texting a code to their bank.
Two days later, they will receive an activation number in the post.
As with cash machines, they will have to use a personal identification number to check their bank balance.
Mobile payment mooted
Initially the service will be limited to balance enquiries, and will not allow other services
But Link said it is considering adding other services in 2005, which could include some method of mobile payment for goods.
They may also include the ability to get a mini bank statement - and potentially to extend overdrafts and transfer money to other people's accounts.
Some 16,000 cash machines on the Link network already offer mobile top-up.