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BOB MOON: I don’t have to tell you all the things you can already do with a cell phone, but here’s something new: banking by cell. AT&T and four major banks say they’ve worked out an agreement so customers can access account info and pay bills over cell phones. As Pat Loeb reports, this could all pay off someday — quite literally.
PAT LOEB: It’s been a tantalizing promise — waving your cell phone at a credit card reader to pay for things, the way they do in Europe and Japan.
We’re not there yet, but AT&T spokesman Marc Siegel says it’s only a matter of time.
MARC SIEGEL: We hope that what we’ve announced today is the seed that will sprout into something really big.
Siegel says consumers first have to get comfortable using their phone for financial transactions. If a phone is lost, the financial information on it can be removed remotely.
There will be no extra fees, at least initially.
BancorpSouth piloted the system. Vice President Michael Lindsey says customers loved it.
MICHAEL LINDSEY: Being able to see what their balance was right before they made a purchase, they thought they were able to make a more informed decision.
BancorpSouth, Wachovia, Sun Trust and Regions Bank have all signed on now. That may be the most significant development.
Analysts say one reason the U.S. is behind in cell phone banking is until now, banks and carriers couldn’t agree on a business plan.
I’m Pat Loeb for Marketplace.
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