5 FAQs about m-banking

The Reserve Bank of India has laid down the operating guidelines for mobile banking. Here’s what it entails.

Sushmita Choudhury | Print Edition: November 13, 2008

What are the services that are available through m-banking?

With RBI’s regulatory framework in place, the banks can now transfer most of their operations to the mobile platform, including facilities like bill payment, purchases (from flowers to flight tickets), and fund transfer (inter-bank and to third parties). This is besides the informational services that most banks have already been offering, including balance enquiry and record of the past five transactions, as well as requests for issuance of cheque books and stop-cheque instructions.

The central bank had asked all banks to limit themselves to alerts and requests after some banks had started allowing monetary transactions. Now that the guidelines have been issued, the banks can resume the old services and start new ones.

Are there any transaction limits on m-banking?

The RBI has fixed a ceiling for daily fund transfer at Rs 5,000 per person, up from Rs 2,500 announced in September. While you can now carry your bank in your pocket, you can only shop for up to Rs 10,000 a day. The RBI is also thinking about a monthly limit, but the good news is that your bank can hike the transaction limit based on your profile.

Is it safe?

Yes, it is as safe as Internet banking. The RBI has recommended that all m-banking transactions be validated through a two-factor authentication system in compliance with the latest security and encryption standards. Mobile phones are safer than plastic money as they are PIN protected, thus minimising the risk of misuse. The fund transfer is real-time and the biggest risk is that you key in the wrong information. Should you lose your mobile phone, just call your bank’s customer care cell or report the loss at the nearest branch. The application will be blocked immediately and can be downloaded on your new phone.

Which banks offer the m-banking facility?

All the banks that are licenced, supervised and have a physical presence in India have been allowed to offer m-banking services, except for cross-border transactions. While the customers of ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have already started enjoying the facility, banks like the State Bank of India and Axis Bank are planning to roll out their m-banking services soon.

Who can avail of it?

As of now, all m-banking transactions are offered free of charge to all account holders, except minors. ICICI Bank’s iMobile application works only on Javaenabled handsets, while HDFC Bank’s ngpay application is limited to GPRS-enabled phones. Do remember that you have to be a sole account holder or have a written mandate from the other joint account holders to avail of m-banking. Also, as in Net-banking, you have to register the beneficiaries and can start transfering funds 24 hours later.

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