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[Singapore] UOB’s Mobile App: A Glimpse Of The Future Of Mobile Banking?

Earlier this week, local bank United Overseas Bank (UOB) launched a new mobile banking application for the iPhone that includes a Mobile Cash service which allows users to withdraw cash from automated teller machines (ATMs) without the use of their bank cards. This service also allows users to transfer money to a list of registered recipients – including non-UOB bank customers – by the use of an instant text message and a one-time password, which allows a recipient withdraw cash from over 600 ATMs in Singapore.

In a nutshell, you can draw cash – or transfer cash to someone – without the need for a bank card. All you need is an iPhone.

Speaking at the launch of UOB Mobile, UOB’s Head of Group Channels Wendy Teo says: “Our mobile application is not just about having internet banking transactions on the mobile screen. We studied how people use their mobile phone and linked that to our knowledge of their everyday banking needs. We then broadened the scope to look at what other features would matter to them. From there, we developed Singapore’s first Mobile Cash application for our customers to transfer money securely and easily.”

The UOB Mobile Banking App

Aside from the more innovative Mobile Cash service, UOB’s mobile banking application integrates the usual suite of banking services you can expect from an official bank app.

You can, for example, initiate banking transactions on the go, including fund transfers, checking account balances and paying bills to more than 100 service providers, for example, as well as get real-time access to financial deposit rates, exchange rates, unit trust prices, as well as as gold or silver prices.

And for those amongst us who love our UOB dining and entertainment credit card privileges, there’s even a “point and view” augmented reality feature that lets you find the various merchants offering promotions around you.

There’s also an inbuilt financial calculator that helps you work out details on personal loans, home equity financing and even help you plan your financial goals.

I tried the beta version of the application before it was released on the iTunes App Store, and found it well-built with an intuitive interface.

Is There A Future For Mobile Banking For The Small Business?

But despite the spread of mobile technologies and the rising adoption of smartphones and use of mobile applications, financial institutions are generally slow when it comes to implementing such services on a larger scale.

It’s bad enough when it comes to retail and consumer banking; for small business banking, mobile technology simply hasn’t quite caught up. And it’s not that the technology isn’t there. UOB executives I spoke to during the launch of UOB Mobile point to two major factors: one, legal and regulatory issues around banking services slow technology adoption to a crawl, and the other is the simple fact that banks rather adopt a wait-and-see attitude – essentially there’s little point trailblazing and have other banks ride on your coattails.

Those are valid points, but as a small business owner I’d love to see these mobile banking services, for example:

– The ability for charging customers on the go, with something like Square. Simply swipe a client’s credit card and get paid instantly – goodbye to cashflow crunch and the inconvenience of running to the banks to cash in checks, etc.

– Something similar to Mobile Cash, but able to release larger payments for vendors (Mobile Cash is restricted to $500 a pop).

– Applying for short-term small business loans during emergencies.

There’s a lot more potential for mobile banking services. UOB’s Mobile Cash and mobile app are great steps in the right direction. Here’s hoping there’s something similar coming in the future for us small business owners.

(Disclosure: We were provided with an Apple iPhone 4S containing a developer build of the mobile app to test with.)

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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