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3/30/2007
12:07 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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AT&T, Verizon Banking On Firethorn

Software provider Firethorn is providing the engine behind AT&T/Cingular's and Verizon Wireless's recently announced mobile banking programs. Will consumers really use their cell phones to do their banking?

Software provider Firethorn is providing the engine behind AT&T/Cingular's and Verizon Wireless's recently announced mobile banking programs. Will consumers really use their cell phones to do their banking?Firethorn essentially assembles, connects, and manages the interworkings between banks, carriers, networks, and users. Firethorn has added financial institutions such as BankcorpSouth, Regions Financial, SunTrust Banks, and Wachovia to its federation of customers. With the banks already in bed with Firethorn, it was enough to convince both AT&T/Cingular and Verizon Wireless to work with it to provide mobile banking services to their respective sets of customers.

Firethorn offers both AT&T/Cingular and Verizon customers the ability to view account balances and history, transfer funds, receive and pay bills, and quickly clear contents if their mobile device is ever lost or stolen. Consumers can do all this on any supported wireless handset, even when their device is offline. That's all very cool.

There is one small snag, and that's the trust factor. The general consumer is growing weary enough of the seemingly endless news headlines about credit card and identity theft. Even with all the safeguards that Firethorn has put in place, attaching bank accounts to mobile phones invites skepticism galore from those who don't like to trust their personal information with anyone, let alone anyTHING.

Firethorn attempts to reassure us by implementing all sorts of security, including PIN authorization and lockout; FFIEC compliance; deactivation in event of theft or loss; encryption of locally stored data; secure registration of mobile phones; and a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection requirement.

Does all this security actually make the device and your banking information secure from theft or loss? Yes. Will people believe in it enough to sign up? Hard to say.

With the Verizon and AT&T/Cingular trials set to launch later this year, it will be interesting to watch how quickly the services are adopted.

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