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Your New Wallet

twitter-logoNidhi Singal | Print Edition: March 2012

Abhishek Agarwal, an engineer in Indore, wasted a lot time visiting his bank. At times, he even had to take leave from work because his bank did not open before 10 in the morning and by time he stepped out after finishing his account-related work, it would be past 1 pm. Of course, once the banking routines changed with the introduction of debit cards and ATMs, Agarwal was less hardpressed for time. These technological advancements simplified his life by giving him an easy access to cash, allowing him to check his balance, facilitating fund transfers, depositing cash and even shopping without hard cash. This transition took some time to happen. But the next step in our banking evolution has begun.

The cell phone that Agarwal uses is not just good at making calls, browsing the web, clicking photos and listening to music - it is smart enough to let him access his bank account anytime, anywhere. And if that's not enough, he will now be able to make payments using his phone. With 900 million mobile phone users in the country, both phone companies and banks realised that using spectrum could take banking services to every nook and corner at all times.

BANK ON MOBILE

Be Secure and Safe
You actively rely on your cell phone for mobile banking and payments. But do you know if your phone is stolen or falls in wrong hands, all your hard-earned money can be lost in a single second? Here are a few tips that you should follow to protect mobile-banking fraud. Exercise caution.

1. Most of the phones support numeric password lock. Activate one for your phone with a password that is difficult to crack. Don't use your birth date, or your spouse's or kids', anniversary date, house number or even telephone number as passwords. These are easiest to crack.

2. If you own a smartphone, install applications that can password protect a particular folder and even applications. So even if your phone is stolen, the thief cannot access information stored. Every time one tries to access the protected folder, it asks for the passcode.

3. Never save your ATM pin or your onetime transaction password in the phonebook. Even if you do, disguise it as a 10-digit number by adding a few numbers that only you need know of.

4. Never disclose your personal information such as account number, password, PAN card number in text messages. These can be used for identity theft.

5. Always keep your phone's Bluetooth turned off and don't accept data from unknown sources. Virus and malware can attack phones. Also on Android smartphones, install an anti-virus. These are most vulnerable to virus attacks.

6. Never leave your bank balance message on your phone.

7. Don't open unknown web links on your phone.

8. Before handing over your device to others, wipe out all the personal account information.

9. At random intervals, change your account password used for making transactions.

Irrespective of whether it is a public-sector bank or a private one, the minute you open a new bank account , your mobile number is linked to that account. Existing customers too can ask the bank to upgrade their details and include their cell numbers. There are merits in giving the bank your number. It allows you to get information in real time about any transactions related your bank account. For instance, if you are paying for petrol with your debit card and your card is swiped twice for the same amount, you will instantly receive a message from the bank and you can take necessary action against those at fault.

But this is not the only advantage. If you register your number for mobile banking services you also get the freedom to access your bank balance, fetch account statement, transfer funds and do much more. With most banks offering mobile banking services, there are different ways to do the same but the basic procedure remains the same. Only savings and current account holders are eligible for mobile banking service.

Such account holders first need to register their mobile numbers with the bank. Bank services can be accessed only from the registered phone number. Also, the customer has to generate a Personal Identification Number (MPIN) that acts as a security password for mobile banking. In case the wrong MPIN is entered three times during a transaction, the mobile banking service account gets deactivated for a day or two.

SMS banking
Mobile Banking
SMS-based mobile banking is the easiest way to transact money matters. Unlike Net banking, it doesn't require GPRS or data connectivity or a highend phone. All you need to do is send a text message with the specific keywords to a bank's predefined banking number. Instantly, the bank reverts with the relevant information. Different banks offer different services but the most commonly available are balance enquiry, cheque status enquiry, cheque book request, stop cheque request and mobile-to-mobile fund transfer. Every bank has a different keyword and text number. In case the wrong keyword, account number or MPIN are entered, the service are not processed further. Here, it is always advisable to delete all messages sent and received that carry any information about the bank account.

Banking apps
SMS is a simple way of accessing your bank account but it incurs texting charges. In case you have a smartphone and a regular data connectivity or even Wi-Fi access, you can opt for a mobile banking application that will give you access to a host of services, thus eliminating the need to visit your bank physically. The regular set of services offered by most of the banks include fund transfer within and outside the bank, interbank mobile payment service, enquiry service, cheque book request, demat enquiry service, bill payments (including utility bills, credit card, insurance premium), mobile top up and other online transactions.

Some of the private banks even offer special services such as stop cheque requests, opening of fixed or recurring deposits, etc. While most public-sector banks like State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Oriental Bank of Commerce, etc, have apps compatible with Java-enabled phones, a few private banks also have applications for smartphones, that is for the iPhone and Android devices.

TIME TO PAY
While mobile banking eliminates the need to visit a bank, there are other services too that link to the bank account for clearing payments.

mChek
One financial service that creates an ecosystem for secure mobile payments is called mChek. The easy-to-use service links the mobile phone to Visa or Mastercard to pay postpaid mobile bills, recharge prepaid mobile, book movie tickets, bus tickets, flight tickets, pay electricity bills, insurance premium and DTH TV bills without your having to stand in long queues. The process involves sending a message to the designated short code and downloading an application.

You can also visit the mChek website to register and generate a special PIN. Then, you can register your credit card using its CVV number and you are ready to make your payments. Although the company claims the service to be operator-independent, we tried installing mChek using an Idea Cellular number and it failed. However, the service works well with Airtel. The service is secure since you have to key in your Pin for every transaction. As with MPIN, entering the mChek pin incorrectly three times leads to temporary blocking of your account.

PayMate
Like mChek, PayMate too links a bank account or credit card to a cell phone for instant payments. It is compatible with almost all handsets and network operators. All a user needs to do is register with the partner bank of PayMate and link the account to a mobile number. There is a list of such banks listed on PayMate's website. It includes ICICI, Dena Bank, Bank of India, HDFC Bank, SBI, IDBI, RBS, Canara, Indian Overseas Bank, and many others.

The payment can be made by sharing the mobile number with the service. The user will receive an IVR call from PayMate to confirm the transaction amount and to ask for the authorisation with the PIN. As soon as the PIN has been entered the transaction is processed. Once the transaction is completed, an SMS notification is sent. The only problem with this solutions is that it is not accepted for payment everywhere. However, with time PayMate's reach can be expected to increase.

CASHLESS-CARDLESS WORLD
The future of mobile payments won't revolve only around SMS or applications. Near-field communication (NFC) will enable ecommerce and contactless payments in a big way. The fundamental nature of this technology is to initiate connection between two NFC-enabled devices at a close range of 4 cm. While it is secure over mediums of contactless payments, it still requires you to be physically present to carry out the transaction. With more and more NFC-enabled phones being launched, more NFC-reading devices will be developed to allow more monetary transactions. Applications that store bank account details and other details for making payments will also be launched. As soon as the phone is tapped against an NFC tag or reader, the application will initiate a secure medium of making payment, using protected passwords.

RBI Guidelines on Mobile Banking
Mobile banking
1. Banks should offer mobile-based banking service only to their own customers, be it bank account or credit card account holders.

2. Banks should have a system of registration before commencing mobilebased payment service to a customer.

3. There can be two levels of mobile based banking service-the first or basic level in the nature of information like balance enquiry, SMS alert for credit or debit, status of last five transactions, and many other information providing services. The second or standard level of mobile banking services involve financial transactions such as payments, transfers and stop payments.

4. Only Indian Rupee-based services can be provided.

5. When a bank offers mobile payments service, it may be ensured that customers having mobile phones of any network operator should be in a position to request for service. Restriction, if any, to the customers of particular mobile operator(s) may be only during the pilot phase.

6. Regarding inter-operability between banks and between their mobile payments service providers, it is recommended that banks adopt the message formats being developed by Mobile Payments Forum of India.

7. It is suggested that the banks issue a new mobile pin (mPIN) to users. To facilitate the mobile payments mPIN may be issued and authenticated by the bank or by a mobile payment application service provider appointed by the bank.

8. In cases where the customer files a complaint with the bank disputing a transaction, it would be the responsibility of the service providing bank to address the customer grievance. Banks should formulate charge-back procedures for addressing such customer grievances.

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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