We now realise that we are charged more than we thought to use our own money. If commercial banks were our wardrobes, we would be getting charged to store and use our own clothes on a daily basis. Also, our wardrobes would be making more money from borrowing others our clothes when we are not using them. So, then we may ask ourselves what the benefit is to use a bank versus keeping money at home. Well, that is for our banks to tell us what value they are adding to their services and most importantly what value they are adding to us as their current and potential clients. At the end of the day, we as banking clients have the power to demand our banks to uphold the value addition they declare to us or shift to another bank that can take better care of us. We live in a time where we not only have increased freedom of choice but also have extensive communication channels. We can now communicate beyond the postal service and landlines. We are in a time where almost everyone has a mobile phone, also known as a cell phone. Each of us knows that someone that is always busy on their cell phone. Or know someone opposite, who has a cell phone but is never reachable. Either way, faster communication results are part of why we are also called the instant generation. Well, for the most part with exemption to ‘network e down’ instances.
We have three mobile networks in our country (green, yellow and orange colours). And much like we have been comparing the varying prices charged by our different banks to ultimately use the same services, these different mobile networks can undergo the same evaluation in an effort to find our individual ‘perfect fit’.
Our financial planning topic for this week is CELL PHONE BANKING; also widely known as mobile-banking. It is a service offered by our banks which involves us performing financial or money transactions using a cell phone. In other words, it is a banking service that allows us to control our bank accounts using our cell phones. Be mindful that this service is similar to but different to money wallet transactions solely performed using any of our three mobile networks.
Cell phone banking is one of the most inclusive (financial and otherwise) services offered by our banks. It does not discriminate in many ways. Each of us that have a bank account has access and qualify to use cell phone banking. We can use cell phone banking on black and white cheap cell phones to expensive smartphones to even tablets. We can use this banking service anytime 24/7 as long as we have a mobile network connection.
Who can use cell phone banking?
Since it is centred around a bank account, anyone with a bank account or anyone who has a connection to someone with a bank account can use this service. However, most banks offer this service for personal banking only.
What financial transactions can we perform using cell phone banking?
perform fund/money transfers between our own bank accounts within the same bank – this may be the case where we have linked our current account to our general savings account, education fund account or even our emergency fund account
perform fund transfers between third-party accounts within the same bank – this is a fund transfer from our account to someone else’s account
perform fund transfers between accounts in different banks – whether our own account or with someone else’s account
buy prepaid airtime – for any of the three mobile networks
pay bills – such as electricity, water and dstv
request mini statements – to review some of our latest account transactions
check our account balance (known as balance inquiry) and
have SMS/text message notifications – on fund deposits into and withdrawals out of our bank account
How much will it cost me?
Most banks offer signing up for this service and fund transfers between our own accounts free of charge. However, other financial transactions have varying charges depending on which bank we use and which cost charge regime we have nominated to use. Be aware that some banks require us to already have airtime to use cell phone banking. Which not only deducts a service fee from our airtime but also still charges our bank account for the other financial transactions we perform thereafter. Whilst other banks have different codes (one code for when we have airtime, and another similar but different code for when we do not have enough airtime) to use this inclusive service.
It is usually compulsory to nominate a four-digit password to access cell phone banking. This is to protect our bank accounts from being misused by unauthorised individuals. This password is meant to be private and not easy to guess. Therefore, if we are using a four-zero or 1234 password please let us change it now.
Other countries around the world have much more advanced cell phone banking systems and applications. Such that, some places have over 90% of bank financial transactions performed over this service. Therefore, let us be mindful of this when we travel to other countries.
Another interesting fact to know is that some of our banks are listed on the BSE. Therefore, we can own shares in the banks we use or just generally those in the country to diversify our investments. Indeed there is a large gap between the interest we receive for our savings and the interest we are charged for loans. Therefore, owning some shares in our banking institutions can trickle down some of those profits to us.
Thinking of the end of the year, right now would be a good time to start planning for our festive season. Saving a bit of money every now and then will go a long way once we are in full swing into the festive season. Now is also a good time to start looking into festive season specials and considering those specials from last year to be better prepared for them this year.
Once again, cell phone or mobile banking has similar charging costs to internet banking. It is also more cost-effective compared to bank branch and ATM services. Let us continue to study our bank tariff guides and consider the effect our banking charges on our financial and lifestyle goals at the end of this year.