The move towards using your phone as a mobile cash machine has taken a step closer with Vodafone introducing a Monilink service on its mobile internet portal.

Vodafone customers can now get access to their bank account details direct from their mobile, using the Vodafone Internet on Your Mobile service. Users can check their balances, request a mini-statement and top up their own or other people's mobiles from their handset.

The Monilink mobile banking network service is now available free for customers of HSBC , first direct and Alliance & Leicester. And, from later this summer, Royal Bank of Scotland , NatWest and Ulster Bank as well.

To enable the secure service, users can register from the Vodafone Internet on Your Mobile home page. Once registered, customers can use a secure application on their mobile to get access to account details. Passcode protection (registered with their bank or building society) ensures an additional layer of security.

Monilink

The Monilink service has been developed by mobile banking specialist Monitise and VocaLink , the company behind the UK's ATM network.

A recent report from Jupiter Research suggests mobile phones will become increasingly important as a means of payment for transactions. By 2011, the report predicts 204 million mobile users will be making payments with phones, generating $22 billion (£10.9 billion) worth of transactions.