first direct Lab
Skip menus

HSBC and first direct break new ground with launch of next generation mobile phone banking through MONILINK

04 Oct 2006

HSBC and first direct have become the first banks to offer customers the next generation of mobile phone banking through MONILINK, a new UK mobile banking platform developed by the UK's cash machine network, LINK and its joint venture partner Monitise.

The banks are now inviting customers to sign up for 'on demand', 24 hour access to banking services including mini-statements and balance enquiries through their mobile handset. Consumers can also top up their own or someone else's prepay mobile. To use the service, they need only download a piece of software onto their phone. As with online banking, once registered and authenticated people will have secure access to their accounts - wherever they are.

Chris Pilling, chief executive of first direct , said: "There are now more people with a mobile phone than a landline1, making it the world's must-have communications device. The launch of MONILINK supports our drive to give customers the widest choice of ways to control their money. first direct was the first branchless bank in the UK. We are now the first to introduce this pioneering mobile phone banking service, which allows consumers to top up a mobile as well as check their account balance."

Alastair Lukies, chief executive of MONILINK, added: "We've developed MONILINK entirely around the needs of the consumer, who we know craves the ability to check their account when on the move. This platform ultimately provides consumers with a 'remote control' for their finances."

For the first time, MONILINK will enable HSBC customers to use their handset to check if they are close to their overdraft limit - anytime, anywhere.

first direct pioneered text message banking seven years ago and currently sends over 48 million texts to customers every year - that's more than one every second. Over 30 per cent of customers opt to receive weekly or monthly mini-statements plus 'event-based' texts which can, for example, tell customers when their salary has been paid.

MONILINK has been developed over the past three years by LINK (the company that runs the UK's cash machine network) and Monitise, part of the Morse Group (the FTSE technology development company). In January 2006, it was recognised by the World Economic Forum as a 'technology pioneer' for developing technology which can have a 'life changing impact on a global scale'.

HSBC and first direct will be inviting customers to join the service over the coming months. (Detailed instructions are given in the footnote2.)

  1. Source: Economic and Social Research Council.
  2. To use the service, HSBC customers can text message the letters 'HSBC' to short code 84447, visit or first direct customers can text message the letters 'FD' to short code 84447 or visit, or Customers will then be sent a short 'web link' via SMS which will allow them to download the service once their security details have been confirmed by HSBC or first direct .


Media enquiries to Rob Skinner on telephone 020 7992 1571 or email

  1. HSBC and first direct 's existing electronic banking services
    HSBC gives customers free branch and telephone banking. Internet banking is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The HSBC bank account also includes free Price Promise Insurance. This service enables customers to claim back the difference on branded goods they have purchased on the UK high street with their HSBC Bank debit card if they should find the identical item for at least £10 less within 60 days.

    first direct was the first bank in the UK to introduce text message banking (1999). Since 1999, it has sent over 120m texts to customers. It sends around 40m texts a year.
    • Customers can receive weekly or monthly mini-statement on up to three accounts for free
    • For £2.50 a month customers can also receive personalised text alerts, for example telling them when their salary has been paid in or when their account threatens to go into the red
    • firstdirectory customers get these additional services for free.
  2. About MONILINK
    MONILINK is a mobile banking service provider. The company is a joint venture between LINK, the operator of the UK ATM network, and Morse plc, one of Europe's leading technology development and consulting companies.

    The company uses the trusted technology and operational capability of the LINK interchange network which is connected with 37 of the UK leading retail banks and building societies. This allows LINK's portfolio of services, such as balance enquiries and mobile prepay 'top ups' to be delivered to the broadest group of banking consumers.

    The service is powered by Monitise, a division of Morse plc which delivers banking technology that provides consumers with a greater level of control over their finances, allowing them to securely access their card-based accounts via the mobile handset.
  3. MONILINK service costs
    MONILINK is absolutely free to download. Charges for using the MONILINK service are billed by the mobile phone provider and will appear on the customers' regular bill. Prices are:
    • 20p per balance enquiry;
    • 25p per mini statement; and
    • Mobile phone top-ups will be free.
  4. first direct
    first direct has been the UK's most recommended bank, and has had the most satisfied customers, for the last 13 years consecutively (which is when the research began), according to research from MORI and Research International.

    The bank offers customers comprehensive internet, telephone and text message banking. Customers can log on or talk to a real person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  5. HSBC Holdings plc
    first direct is a division of HSBC Bank plc, and a member of the HSBC Group. HSBC Holdings plc serves over 125 million customers worldwide through some 9,500 offices in 76 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. With assets of US$1,738 billion at 30 June 2006, HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations. HSBC is marketed worldwide as 'the world's local bank'.
Share this (opens in a new window)

You may also be interested in …

HSBC and first direct will be the first banks to offer customers the next generation of mobile phone banking later this year when their services go live on the 125ILINK network, a new UK mobile banking platform from the UK's cash machine network, LINK. For the first time, consumers will be able to get 'on demand'...

Share this (opens in a new window)

HSBC and first direct customers will offer customers access to Apple Pay, which is transforming mobile payments with an easy, secure and private way to pay, soon after it launches in the UK. Francesca McDonagh, head of retail banking and wealth management UK, HSBC “HSBC and first direct customers will be among the first in the UK to use Apple Pay...

Share this (opens in a new window)