Morgan Stanley launches ‘a modern alternative to banking’

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Morgan Stanley has launched a brokerage account that looks and feels more like a bank account. In fact, the bank calls it “a modern alternative to banking.”

It is the latest example of the convergence of brokerage, banking and wealth management that has created more nonbank competition for traditional banks.

The new CashPlus Account comes with online banking, a mobile banking app, a debit card, support for direct deposit, online bill payment, ATM access, Zelle person-to-person payments, wire transfers and access to Morgan Stanley credit cards from American Express. It replaces the Premier Cash Management program.

“With a Morgan Stanley CashPlus Account, clients have an alternative to a bank experience designed around their needs," Paul Halpern, head of deposits and banking services for Morgan Stanley Private Banking Group, said in a news release Thursday. "They receive personalized service and advice, exceptional value, enhanced protection and a digital-first experience.”

The account offers Securities Investor Protection Corp. coverage for securities in the account and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. coverage for cash swept into a bank deposit program.

Users can set alerts, order checks and lock and unlock their debit cards from the app.

Large financial players like Morgan Stanley and Interactive Brokers Group, big-tech firms like Amazon and Google as well as fintech firms are all seeking to offer check, savings and card services.

However, the trend has also opened up new partnership opportunities for commercial banks, whose charters give them access to deposit insurance, the payments system and other privileges that nonbanks value.

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