Barclays’ new app allows customers to send money using mobile numbers

17 February 2012

Barclays bank has unveiled a new mobile application that allows people to send and receive money using just their mobile phone numbers, without sharing banking details. The Pingit app is initially only available to the bank’s own customers but a second release in March 2012 will mean anyone with a current account with a British bank or building society could use the service, which runs over the country’s updated Faster Payments Service infrastructure.

The free-to-use Pingit app from Barclays links the user’s current account with their mobile phone number. This enables payments to be sent directly to that account but without the sender needing to know anything more than the recipient’s mobile phone number. A similar service has long been available in Australia and elsewhere in the world with ANZ an early champion of the convenient payment form, which is a belated response from banks to PayPal, Google’s m-wallet and other payment innovations in the sector. The credit card arm of the UK bank, Barclaycard, launched its QuickTap stored value Mobile Contactless Payment scheme last year in cooperation with Orange to try to gain a foothold in the MCP space ahead of industry predictions that mobile cash payments and contactless payments will grow.

The new Barclays Pingit app is compatible with Apple’s iOS 4.2, Google’s Android operating system version 2.2 and above and Blackberry’s OS 4.6 and above. Registration via Barclays' website is also available. The minimum transaction is set at £1 and the maximum single transaction limit is £300. The daily limit for getting payments on Pingit is £5,000. A five-digit passcode, set by the user, provides some security.

According to Anthony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking, “you can send and receive money in seconds, without having to enter account details.”

“Pingit could revolutionise the way people send and receive money,” he continued. “For friends splitting the cost of dinner, repaying a borrowed £10 or people sending money to a son or daughter at university, it’s free, quick and convenient, [plus it’s] secure and easy-to-use.”

Primarily aimed at the retail banking market, some small business users at Barclays bank in the UK are also being targeted – for example, sole traders such as plumbers or painters may be able to use the service to speed up customers’ payments.

Commenting on the security provisions for the new Pingit mobile money app, Pat Carroll the chief executive of ValidSoft, warned that it is possible to, “manipulate both the sending and receiving of cash, through tactics such as SIM swap (a technique whereby fraudsters can divert calls or actions made via phones away from the number they are intended to reach and towards a different number for their own gain).” Naturally he believes that, “any services provided in the mobile payments arena need to have both strong inherent security and a strong enrolment process. This is fundamental to ensuring both customer security and banks’ reputations.”

By Neil Ainger

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