January 11, 2011

Hey AT&T - can you hear Verizon now?

After months — no, years — of speculation about which domestic carrier would land it next, Apple's prize mobile hardware is no longer an AT&T exclusive. Verizon Wireless announced in New York this morning it would begin carrying the iPhone Feb. 10. And it's not exactly a huge surprise.

As The Wall Street Journal reported last October, and countless industry analysts have speculated since the iPhone came into existence back in 2007, Apple has ended its U.S. exclusivity with AT&T, bringing freedom of choice between mobile carriers and between wireless technologies — AT&T's HSPA versus Verizon's CDMA.

But what, if anything, does it mean for banks? While Verizon has featured a bevy of smartphones in the form of RIM Blackberrys and various devices running Google's Android OS, it's always been Apple's iPhone that has attracted the biggest app developer community as well as influence among general consumers looking to upgrade to something a little smarter than the old Motorola Razr. And with the undeniable interest the general public has shown in smartphones — particularly the iPhone and its app ecosystem — it could open up a huge opportunity to promote more banking apps, online banking and mobile payment services to customers.

As Bank Systems & Technology predicted in its January issue, mobile banking and payments are destined to become two of the top 10 trends in banking technology this year. And it'll be no coincidence if the availability of the iPhone on America's two largest mobile carriers will have an influence on that.

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