AIB said on Wednesday that its new offering, which enables its phone and Internet banking customers to top-up the credit on pre-paid mobile phones from all Irish mobile operators using any touch-tone or Net-enabled PC, had received a good reaction.
The service was piloted for six weeks before its launch in August and, according to the bank, over 2,000 of its customers are using the service every weekday. In addition, over 3,500 phone and Internet banking users are topping-up their phones during the weekend.
Of those using the service, 65 percent use the phone to top-up, while 35 percent do it via a PC. Users can also top-up other mobile phones, which means that parents can top-up their children's phones for them.
AIB has between 280,000 and 300,000 users of its phone and Internet banking service, and, according to Kieran Rogers, operations development manager, AIB Direct Banking, it is hopeful that it can increase current take-up of 10 percent to around 50 percent by year-end. Around 70 percent of all mobile phone customers in Ireland use a pre-paid phone.
"The service was introduced after requests from customers that the ATM service be also available via the phone and the Internet," explained Rogers. "Reaction to the new offering to date has been extremely positive as users view it as being convenient."
When users top-up their phones, the amount credited to their phones is debited from their AIB account. There is also a standard electronic transaction charge, similar to the one for ATM transactions, of around EUR0.17 for each time they top-up.
According to Rogers, users have their phones topped-up by their prospective mobile operator within 15 minutes of using the AIB service.
As well as being convenient, this service may also be welcomed by consumers who face increased charges for top-up cards available in newsagents. Vodafone, for example, recently decided to reduce the margin for retailers on its Ready to Go cards and the Irish Retail Newsagents Association reacted by calling for pre-paid Vodafone customers to be charged a handling fee of EUR0.40 for a EUR10 top-up and EUR0.60 for a EUR15 top-up.