HSBC Rolls Out Mobile Banking Service

First Direct, a member of the British group, will offer balance inquiries and mini-statements for a fee, plus free fill-ups for pay-as-you-go phones

First Direct and HSBC have launched a mobile phone banking service.

The service will initially allow customers to make balance enquiries and receive mini-statements as well as top up pay-as-you-go mobile phones.

The new service is provided through UK mobile banking platform Monilink, which has been co-developed by Link and Monitise.

Customers will need to download a free software package for their phone. They will then be charged a set amount each time they use a particular service - 20p for balance enquiries, 25p for mini statements. Mobile top-ups will be free.

Jonathan Etheridge, head of e-futures for First Direct, said: "The convenience of being able to top up as many as five pay-as-you-go mobile phones will appeal most to customers."

As with all financial services, security is a key consideration but Etheridge said users will only be able to top up pre-registered phones and won't be able to move sums of money between accounts.

Quocirca analyst Rob Bamforth said the success of the new service will depend on its availability. As the option is only available on Java-enabled phones this could limit its potential. Bamforth said: "There will be a willingness if the service is right."

First Direct has been offering a text message service for seven years with more than 400,000 customers receiving monthly mini-statements. In contrast, the new service allows customers to view their accounts whenever they want.

Other banks have offered this kind of service before with Egg providing similar information through phones equipped with i-mode.