Bank of America Corp. has developed a mobile phone banking service it plans to launch next month.

The Charlotte company said Tuesday that its customers would be able to use the service to access its online bill payment service through mobile devices that can access the Internet.

The phone service also will provide access to conduct basic online banking functions, such as viewing balances and transaction history and moving money among B of A accounts.

"You cannot buy a cell phone anymore without it coming with Web-enabled capabilities," said Sanjay Gupta, B of A's e-commerce executive. "We like to be where the marketplace is headed."

Bank of America, which developed the mobile banking software in-house, said the new service includes encryption to protect communications between customers and the bank.

The company plans to start testing the service with customers in Tennessee next month and expand the test to other states by mid-2007.

The service includes a version of the SiteKey security tool that B of A uses with its online banking sites. SiteKey, a rebranded version of a product from EMC Corp.'s RSA Security, displays a pre-selected image to prove to users that the bank's site is legitimate before they enter their passwords.

Other companies are moving forward with similar plans to put banking on cell phones. In September, Wachovia Corp. adapted its Web site to display a trimmer version on cell phone screens. Its customers found the mobile site before the company began promoting it, so it already had 250 users a day by the time Wachovia launched its marketing campaign.

Banking companies that do not want to develop the software in-house are turning to vendors to provide a mobile banking interface for their customers. BancorpSouth Inc. and Synovus Financial Corp. have tested software from Firethorn Holdings LLC; and HopFed Bancorp Inc. has tested software from Online Resources Corp.

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