Dish Network-owned Boost Mobile is getting into financial services with the launch of OmniMoney, a basic banking service aimed at people who can’t access traditional bank accounts. It’s a service that Boost CEO Stephen Stokols hopes will make the brand “stickier to existing customers” and attract new ones. This comes at a time when the company very much needs to attract new customers, as the Boost brand continues to lose subscribers and Dish is struggling to get a viable 5G network off the ground. At least part of that plan includes offering “basic no-fee banking services” — except, well, there are fees.
To be clear, Boost Mobile is not becoming a bank. It’s licensing the service from a company called Alviere, which handles the banking bit and is an FDIC member. OmniMoney by Boost, as it is formally branded, doesn’t require a credit check to open an account. There’s no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees as long as the account is active in a 12-month time period.
The fees creep in when you deposit money to your account
That all sounds quite generous, but the fees creep in when you deposit money to your account. One of Boost’s selling points for the new service is the ability to deposit cash into your account at a Boost retail store, but there’s a $4 fee every time you do. There’s also a $1 fee every time you attempt a remote check deposit. If you want to get cash out of your account, there’s a $1.30 charge for using an “in-network” ATM. Direct deposit — which many of the customers Boost is targeting are unlikely to have access to — is free.
You don’t necessarily need to be a Boost customer to open an OmniMoney account, but the company plans to offer “special discounts and perks” to those who are. One of those perks is the ability to send free remittances to Mexico if you’re on a premium unlimited Boost plan. Otherwise, there’s a $3.50 fee to send money to Mexico from an OmniMoney account (on top of the $4 cash deposit fee). That’s about the same rate that the Western Union website quotes me for sending $100 to Mexico if I deposit cash in-store.
Stokols says that OmniMoney can “play into other parts of the business”
It’s clear how Boost hopes OmniMoney will appeal to its current customer base, but it’s less clear what this all has to do with Dish’s bigger plans for Project Genesis, its cutting-edge 5G service complete with NFTs. Stokols alludes to offerings in the future to appeal to more affluent people. Even though it’s Boost branded, he says it can “play into other parts of the business” and confirmed that cryptocurrency might figure into that future — Alviere offers crypto products, as it so happens.
Before any of that happens, Boost has to get OmniMoney up and running. It launches today, but in-store cash deposit services are only available in Texas, California, Maryland, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, and Washington, DC. Boost plans to take the service nationwide in early 2023.