NatWest is to launch its first live mobile phone banking service in the first week of April.
The service runs on the Orange network using Nokia WAP-enabled handsets. Developed with agency Razorfish, it will initially cover 200 joint NatWest and Orange customers and will then be extended significantly for more customers under other network providers from June onwards.
The move by NatWest follows Woolwich's launch of the UK's first WAP banking service to 100 customers at the start of the month.
NatWest customers will be able to check balances, view short statements, transfer money between accounts and pay bills. They will also be able to set up Short Message Service (SMS) alerts to warn them when their balances reach a certain limit or when credit card payments are due. These are arranged through contact with NatWest staff.
The initial 200 customers have been recruited internally - all having expressed an interest in participating via NatWest's web site.
"Unlike many other WAP initiatives, this is no stop-and-start trial. There is no reason why we can't expand our service to include information services such as share prices and other economic data," commented NatWest spokesman Anthony Frost.
Ron Kalifa, head of e-commerce marketing at NatWest, said: "I am nervous about making this a generic offering. It needs to be customised and we are inviting a lot of feedback from the initial phase to help us to do this."
He said that at least a million people are expected to be using the company's online services by the end of the year.
Bob Fuller, chief operating officer at Orange, said: "Orange's objective is to lead the market in m-commerce. By the end of the year, we predict that over 70 per cent of new phones will be WAP-enabled."