As if there were any doubt that mobile wallets are the future, Barclays just launched what it's calling Europe's first person-to-person service for sending and receiving money using mobile phone numbers, and saw 20,000 Brits sign up in the first two days. The bank's free mobile app, powered by Pingit, is free to download and use, and promises secure transfer of funds in seconds, which will show up immediately on customers' bank statements.
The Barclays Pingit mobile payment system is available to any UK resident with a UK registered mobile number, users must be 18 or older and need an Android phone, BlackBerry or iPhone smartphone with with web access. Barclays current account customers can send up to £300 a day to family, friends and small businesses. Non-Barclays customers with a current account can receive payments, and "soon they'll be able to send money too," according to the bank.
"Barclays' Pingit could revolutionise the way people send and receive money," stated Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking, about the contactless payments launch. "For friends splitting the cost of dinner, repaying a borrowed £10 or people sending money to a son or daughter at university, it is free, quick, convenient, secure, and easy to use. You can send and receive money in seconds without having to enter account details. I'm sure we'll soon be wondering what we did before it."
The Pingit system is "threatening to become the industry standard," observes ThisisMoney.co.uk, which adds that "Royal Bank of Scotland, owner of NatWest, is understood to be looking at similar ideas as is Lloyds Banking Group. HSBC said it had no plans at the moment to launch a Pingit rival, but a spokesman said the move by Barclays was "certainly a step forward for the banking industry.'"
A commenter on that site calling himself John Alton posted the following after trying out Barclays Pingit app:
Just used pingit to transfer money to my son who has an account with a different bank. Absolutely brilliant. Saved me a walk into town to do an over the counter transaction in his bank. The app works perfectly on my Blackberry Smartphone. Security is ok with 5 digit PIN to invoke the app. No bank details are stored on your phone after registration and pingit can disable app if phone is stolen. A thief would have to know phone password plus pingit pin to use the app. This system is also great for small businesses and market traders who can't afford mobile card terminals. Get with it all you luddites and naysayers!
In addition to releasing a video with Sean Gilchrist, head of digital banking for Barclays, addressing the #1 question by consumers — security — the bank also produced video tutorials (such as the one below) to educate and reassure customers, demonstrating how to register, send and receive money via the service.
Users must take care to use the service accurately, and make sure their smartphones are password-protected, of course. "Customers need to ensure that they input the correct mobile number on outset and that they are careful when making transfers so as not to select the wrong amount," commented Moneyfacts' Rachel Springall to the Telegraph. "It will be interesting to see how other lenders react to this release, especially since the launch of mobile banking as a whole has met many customers day-to-day banking needs."