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HSBC mobile banking service criticized, insurance venture mooted

The mobile banking service recently introduced by HSBC and its online banking subsidiary First Direct in the UK has received criticism, with a report suggesting that the list of mobile phone handsets excluded from the service is too long.

HSBC rolled out the service, which uses Monilink, a banking platform developed by cash machine network operator Link and Monitise, at the start of October. It allows HSBC and First Direct customers to access banking services such as balance enquiries and mini statements through their mobile phone 24 hours a day.

However, while the introduction of the service represents a pioneering move for HSBC in the UK banking industry, the service has already come under criticism, with a report by The Inquirer newspaper claiming that the list of handsets unable to subscribe to the service is too long.

For example, as the newspaper points out, all Windows CE, NEC, Philips, Blackberry and almost all Orange 3G devices are incompatible with the Monilink software.

Furthermore, The Inquirer quotes Which? Researcher Rebecca Fearnley as saying that the 25 pence per text cost is expensive, meaning consumers should be wary of using the service too often.

However, with other leading UK bands set to introduce their own mobile banking services, it looks like the idea could still prove to be popular with consumers.

In other news, the Wall Street Journal has reported that HSBC may be considering an insurance joint venture in China. According to the report, HSBC wants to set up the venture, which would capitalize on preferential trade arrangements between Hong Kong and China, by the end of the year.