T-Mobile’s (News - Alert) description reads, “Bring your money to T-Mobile and free yourself from checking fees at the bank.” Mobile Money is the combination of T-Mobile’s Visa Prepaid Card money management app and a surcharge free nationwide ATM network that brings many of the features of a checking account right to your smartphone. It is designed so that you can manage your card account from virtually anywhere.
As Engadget correctly mentions, T-Mobile's latest service seems to fit its Uncarrier agenda perfectly. It really does not seem to have anything to do with your wireless connection. In fact, I believe that it is not even necessary to have T-Mobile’s phone service in order to participate in its Mobile Money program.
Basically, without any associated fees, T-Mobile wireless customers can deposit checks into their Mobile Money account by taking a picture of them with their smartphone, withdraw money from 43,000 in-network ATMs and reload the cards with cash at T-Mobile stores (non-T-Mobile customers would pay additional fees but would still be able to use the service). There are also no maintenance fees, minimum balances or activation fees.
I’m not a financial expert or even close to it, but to me, this sounds like a debit card. It has been explained to me that this service is generally geared for people who for one reason or another are unable to get a traditional checking account. These are people who generally use a check cashing service which charges a high fee.
According to Taylor Collyer, who is senior director of marketing at T-Mobile, "When T-Mobile began developing the Mobile Money program, a key goal was to use the smartphone to help consumers both manage their money and keep more of it in their pocket. The Allpoint Network helps us accomplish that mission with 43,000 surcharge free ATMs found in many of America's most popular retailers, made even more convenient by a free, easy-to-use Allpoint ATM locator within the Mobile Money app."
Allpoint is an interbank network in the U.S. that connects ATMs in all 50 states. It was founded in 2003 as ATM National and was then acquired by Cardtronics in 2005. Cardtronics owns andoperates more than 82,700 retail ATMs in the U.S. and several international locales. Allpoint does not charge fees to customers of member banks. This is in direct contrast with most U.S. ATM networks that charge fees to customers using an ATM at any location other than their own bank.
By using Mobile Money, registered T-Mobile wireless customers pay $0 when withdrawing cash from an in-network Allpoint ATM using their T-Mobile Visa Prepaid Card. The card itself is issued by The Bancorp Bank and supported by Blackhawk Network. Blackhawk Network Holding, Inc. or Blackhawk is a leading prepaid payment network, which supports the program management and distribution of gift cards, prepaid telecom products and financial service products across a global network. Blackhawk's digital platform supports prepaid across a network of digital distribution partners including retailers, financial service providers, and mobile wallets.
Bill Knoll, who is executive vice president of the financial institutions products group at Cardtronics, said "Easy access to cash, preferably without the surcharge imposed by the ATM owner, is at the heart of the most successful general-purpose prepaid card programs. By having access to Allpoint, America's largest surcharge free ATM network, the T-Mobile Visa Prepaid Card is a core component of Mobile Money by T-Mobile."
Edited by Maurice Nagle
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