T-Mobile launched its own fee-free mobile banking service called Money, backed by the BankMobile division of Customers Bank and available for sign-ups as of right now. Interactions with the service take place via a mobile app and a network of over 55,000 no-cost Allpoint ATMs. The mobile provider goes quite a bit further still with 'Got Your Back' overdraft protection and FDIC backing alongside 24/7 customer support. There are also no fees for holding an account or maintainence and no minimum amount that needs to be kept in a given account. Overdrafts are prevented on the service outright. All money held in a T-Mobile Money account accrues interest at 1-percent while T-Mobile customers can earn up to 4-percent APY if they maintain a balance at or above $3,000 and deposit $200 per month. Customers of the service provider's cell service also gain access to $50 of free overdraft protections. Automatic bill paying, photo-based check deposits, direct deposits, and mobile wallet functionality via Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay are all part of the package as well.
Background: T-Mobile is no stranger to banking, having previously launched a service called Mobile Money that was discontinued in June of 2016 after several years of operation. The company didn't provide many reasons for the shutdown at the time, simply citing that other "prepaid banking solutions" were becoming available. That was said to have shifted the market away from any need for the carrier to continue operating its banking division. One of those competitors was Simple Banking, which actually launched in 2014 but saw an influx of users from Google Wallet at the search giant's recommendation in 2016 as the Wallet card service was brought to an end. That service is very similar to T-Mobile's latest offering with very few exceptions pertaining to interest rates and extra features.
T-Mobile's history with banking could make some users wary to try out T-Mobile Money. In particular, the sudden and seemingly reasonless closure of its previous service may be cause to concern. There are plenty of good reasons for T-Mobile customers to look into it though and user of that prior service weren't exactly left without their money. Instead, T-Mobile gave adequate time for funds to be moved or spent and informed users well in advance so that changes to direct deposits could be made.
Impact: The move to shift back into mobile banking appears to be tied in with a wider effort to expand service offerings across a more diverse range to compete with other carriers in the US. A new TV-like streaming service is also expected to be in the works and launching in 2019. That follows T-Mobile's acquisition of Layer3 TV and comments from executives within the company indicate that it will likely be a mobile-first solution that also has a web presence. No official announcements have been made on the service but it would likely be intended to compete directly with AT&T's DirecTV offerings following that carrier's merger with Time Warner. T-Mobile is working to be more competitive through its own merger with Sprint but that isn't going to be a quick implementation even if it is approved. In the meantime, the carrier appears to be looking to branch out into as many side industries as possible.