By Francis Chan
DBS Bank and POSB customers can now perform transactions on their mobile phones.
Singapore's biggest lender has finally joined rivals OCBC Bank, Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank (Stanchart) in offering the increasingly popular facility.
The service, called mBanking, allows customers to review their banking and credit card accounts, transfer funds and pay bills.
Other services from the Internet banking platform will be added to the mBanking service over time, said Mr Rajan Raju, head of DBS consumer banking group.
'We will be taking elements from Internet banking that people would like, and this could extend to something like online trading, and deliver that on the small screens of their mobile phones,' he said.
Customers using mBanking will also have the bank's 'money-safe' guarantee, added Mr Raju.
This means they will be protected during online activity, with DBS reimbursing them in the event of any unauthorised transactions.
Although mBanking was soft launched on the DBS and POSB websites without any fanfare on Sunday, more than 2,300 customers have already downloaded the application.
This was no great surprise, as more than 1.35 million DBS and POSB customers already use Internet banking, which provides the foundation for mBanking.
Mobile banking service has been a long time coming at DBS and POSB.
OCBC, which rolled out mobile banking four years ago, was the first bank here to tap into the growing use of cellphones for online activities.
Similar platforms were also introduced by Citibank and Stanchart last year, as mobile banking grew into an indispensable service.
OCBC's head of delivery, Mr Patrick Chew, said yesterday that mobile banking was fast becoming mainstream, with its user base doubling each year.
Citibank's director of e-Business, Mr Daniel Li, said he expects one in 10 customers to use Citi Mobile by the end of the year.
Such popularity, however, was not always the case.
When OCBC rolled out mobile banking in 2006, its competitors did not even break a sweat, mainly because Citibank and DBS had already halted earlier versions of the service because of low take-up rates.
The advent of a more robust 3G mobile phone network that better supports secure data transfers changed all that.
Infocomm Development Authority figures show a fast-growing population of cellphone users who are paying for 3G services - the platform mobile banking uses.
The figures also indicate that as of February this year, there were more than 6.8 million mobile phone subscriptions here, with more than 3.3 million using 3G services - an increase from about 2.5 million just a year ago.
That development was why Mr Raju felt it made more sense for DBS to introduce mBanking now.
'Technology has come to a point where the mobile phone has become suitably advanced for these kind of applications to be used... which was why we thought it was the right time to come out with mBanking,' he added.
Mr Raju also told The Straits Times that DBS will introduce a second two-factor authentication (2FA) system for customers banking online.
Instead of using hardware tokens to generate the 2FA personal identification numbers to access their accounts online, customers will be able to receive PINs via text messages on their mobile phones by the end of the year.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.