Wednesday 24 October 2012

ICICI introduces mobile refills via SMS

ICICI bank's mobile banking customers can now recharge their mobile phones by sending an SMS, reports Since this feature does not require an Internet connection, those using feature phones can use it too. The bank had launched its mobile banking application a couple of years ago. To use this service, users need to text MTOPUP to 9222208888. The can recharge their mobile phones with up to Rs 1,500. However, to be able to use this service, users will need an MPIN, which they can get by sending a text message with the text MPIN to the same number. By way of their new SMS service, users will be able to access other services such as balance enquiry, cheque status enquiry, and last three transactions.

Banking services via SMS are also offered by other banks, such as SBI, Axis Bank, Union Bank and HDFC Bank. Online recharge provider Paytm previously had a service similar to the ICICI one launched now, wherein users could recharge their mobile phones via SMS and also by calling a toll-free number.

Considering that the bank is quite popular and has a fairly wider reach, add to that the growing popularity of mobile phones, a service like this can go on to be quite popular with the masses. A couple of months ago, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued new guidelines for mobile banking. All service providers offering mobile banking services had been asked to adhere to and meet the quality standard that has been laid down by the TRAI. Airtel recently extended its mobile money service to more cities, while Loop also has its mobile wallet services.

These new guidelines include that the access service providers have to facilitate banks for the use of text messages, unstructured supplementary services data (USSD), and interactive voice response (IVR), in order to provide banking services to its customers. Besides, the access service provider can also facilitate banks to use WAP, which is however optional. It has further added that the response time for the delivery of messages for mobile banking services generated by the customer or the bank has to be within a time frame of up to 10 seconds for SMS, IVR, WAP and STK and up to 2 seconds for USSD.

Last month, reports had indicated that the Bank of America Corp was testing out a technology that allows a customer to pay at a store register by scanning an image with a smartphone, such as Apple Inc's iPhone or Google Inc's Android devices.

Reports at the time had shared that the pilot program was being tested in Charlotte, North Carolina, "where the second-largest U.S. bank is headquartered, and marks the latest effort by a financial institution to come out on top in the race to determine how people will pay for things in the future".

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