US MVNO Boost Mobile, partnering with embedded finance platform Alviere (a service provider of Community Federal Savings Bank), is expanding into financial services with the launch of the OmniMoney service. OmniMoney, which the operator plans to take nationwide in the coming months, will provide money transfers, debit cards and basic no-fee digital checking services at Boost retail locations.
The service will be available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. However, Boost Mobile customers will enjoy additional perks, such as free remittances to Mexico up to US $1,000 per month for subscribers with premium unlimited plans.
The low-cost mobile carrier, owned by Dish, is looking to target the around 60 million Americans with limited access to banking services. With OmniMoney, They will be able to manage their mobile money accounts with a mobile app and an online portal, with no credit checks, no minimum balance requirements, and no monthly fees for active users.
Since MVNOs have traditionally been about low costs without any upmarket services, at first glance, this seems an unusual step for Boost Mobile. Upon closer inspection, however, this move represents a logical extension of the Dish-owned MVNO’s primary user demographic: low-income urban Americans.
In the quest for additional streams of income, branching out into financial services is not unheard of in the telecom industry. However, it is an expensive venture that comes with its own set of challenges, particularly in customer acquisition. Indeed, a number of the larger MNOs have tried to enter this space in the past. However, in the developed markets, subscribers with existing bank accounts generally have no real motivation to switch. Instead, success has largely been limited to countries in Africa where most subscribers have no bank accounts.
If we consider Boost’s existing subscriber base, however, it is understandable that customer acquisition in this space is less of a struggle. Because they only have limited (if any) access to banking services, millions of Boost Mobile customers pay their bill in cash each month at retail locations. The need for financial services is already prevalent among Boost’s subscriber base, which makes this undertaking a natural, less risky move for the American MVNO.