Financial Services

T-Mobile Adds Banking to Its List of New Services

Just days after getting into the TV industry, T-Mobile expanded its mobile banking service nationwide. However, the operator didn't position either launch as an "uncarrier" announcement, a curious development considering T-Mobile has managed to generate significant momentum with previous "uncarrier" announcements like its "team of experts" announcement late last year.

Further, the launch of both TVision Home (T-Mobile's new TV service) and T-Mobile Money (T-Mobile's new banking service) come amid T-Mobile's efforts to score regulatory approval for its proposed merger with Sprint. Although company executives continue to maintain a positive outlook on the prospects for that proposed transaction, analysts are becoming increasingly concerned that T-Mobile will not receive sign off from the Department of Justice and the FCC for its Sprint deal.

Nonetheless, T-Mobile executives aren't letting the noise around the Sprint merger to inhibit their moves into new areas of service. Earlier this month T-Mobile introduced TVision Home, a rebranded and enhanced home pay-TV service that was previously offered and marketed under the Layer3 TV label. TVision Home launched Sunday in Chicago; Dallas-Forth Worth; Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and Longmont, Colo., and T-Mobile plans to expand the $90-per-month offering to more markets later this year.

As for T-Mobile Money, the launch today is essentially a nationwide expansion of a trial that T-Mobile initiated in November. T-Mobile Money -- created in partnership with BankMobile, a division of Customers Bank -- offers customers a 4% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on balances up to $3,000 as well as overdraft protection and the ability to make mobile check deposits, set up direct deposit, pay bills, send a check, transfer money and make person-to-person payments. The offering also ties into services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay and includes a Mastercard debit card.

T-Mobile is joining Apple on the payments front; several years after introducing its Apple Pay service, Apple earlier this month added a credit card to its payment service.

Of course, T-Mobile isn't the first mobile network operator to get into the banking game. Other operators that have entered mobile banking include Orange in France and operators in Africa. And this isn't the first time T-Mobile has dabbled in banking: The operator launched a Mobile Money trial in Miami in November 2014.

It's also worth pointing out that T-Mobile and other US mobile network operators don't have a particularly great track record when it comes to the US payments industry. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile backed a mobile wallet system in 2013 called "Isis" that was rebranded to "Softcard" in July 2014 and was then shuttered in 2015.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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