MobileCash: Banking innovation of the year?

August 20, 2014 2:30 pm

RAKBANK expands its mobile banking options by launching ‘MobileCash’, which may well revolutionise the money transfer service in the region.

At a press conference held on Tuesday, August 19, the bank’s CEO, Peter England, introduced the product as an attempt to make “everyday banking a more simple and straightforward concept”.

MobileCash allows customers to send up to AED5,000 to any beneficiary using their mobile phones, which the recipient can collect from any RAKBANK ATM, without the need for a bank account. By nominating a beneficiary – which can include oneself (in case the sender is not in possession of their card, but is in need of cash) – and the amount to be sent, the recipient receives an SMS notifying them of the transfer and a password they simply need to enter into the ATM to withdraw the money.

Although it’s a service that is unique to the UAE, its weakness clearly lies in limited access, ie in order to use the service, the sender has to have a RAKBANK mobile account and the recipient has to have access to one of the 200 nationwide RAKBANK ATMs.

Speaking to AMEinfo, England says: “It’s possible that we’ll consolidate with other banks in the future and offer this service across the retail banking industry – however, they first have to jump on board with the idea, the software, etc.”

Nonetheless, if the concept were to become widespread and be adopted by other retail banks, the implications it can have on various services are vast. By eliminating the need for a physical bank card or a generic PIN, withdrawing cash will become both easier and safer than what is currently being offered by both MasterCard and Visa. On this note, the bank’s CEO suggests that it will be interesting to see how card providers would adapt to the service, if it were to significantly penetrate the market.

Moreover, transferring money without the need for a bank account is generally only served by the likes of Western Union and MoneyGram, which are both complicated and time consuming, particularly for recipients that have to physically collect the funds from official agents. If the concept were to be adopted across the UAE, let alone on a global level, it would completely redefine the money transfer service as we know it.

The first challenge for MobileCash will be its ability to attract interest from RAKBANK customers; only 25 per cent currently uses the bank’s mobile banking platform. Nonetheless, considering its vast strengths, it may well be a matter of time before cardless withdrawals become an everyday norm.