Barclays has launched a new smartphone application, called Pingit, which allows you to transfer money just by using someone’s mobile number. Can it revolutionise the way we bank?
I went out for dinner with a group of friends two weeks ago, and when it came to paying the bill I realised I’d left my debit card at home. Embarrassingly, I had to ask someone to pay for me and assure them that, if they gave me their bank account details, I’d transfer the money to them as soon as I got near a computer.
Ever found yourself in that situation? That moment when you tap your pockets and say ‘sorry, I haven’t got any cash on me, can I sort you out later?’ Personally, I can’t bear the thought of it (although my friend insisted I didn’t need to pay her back, so I lucked out).
Pinging money to your mates
But if you’re with Barclays and own a smartphone, you don’t ever need to be in that position again. Last week, Barclays launched a new app called ‘Pingit’, which synchronises your mobile number with your bank account and lets you send up to £300 a day over the phone.
Forgot your wallet? Get a friend to take some cash out for you and ping it back in to their account. Under the Faster Payments service, they should get it in as little as 30 seconds.
The service is only available to Barclays customers who own an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, but it is expected to be available for all other banks in March.
Not only has the app been downloaded over 120,000 times in the past five days, it really does work. We even tested it live on air in the Which? Money podcast this week. All I needed was a colleague’s number and how much I wanted to transfer, and just like that, the money was sent. You can even send a friendly text message along with it.
The revolution is here
In my view, this could completely alter the way we carry out our banking in the UK – with a mobile wallet that’s always stuck by your side. It makes the process of logging in to your bank account online and punching in someone’s account details seem as cumbersome as going to a bank branch.
I was surprised to learn that in places like Kenya, mobile transfers of this nature have existed for years. It has a reported 14 million subscribers and 28,000 agents, which allow Kenyans to withdraw money. The scheme has been so popular that it’s been rolled out to other countries, including Afghanistan and Tanzania.
Why on earth has it taken so long to come over to the UK? As technology develops, and the likes of near field communication become more prevalent, what we view as the conventional ways to pay are now going to seem like relics in just a few years. And I think Pingit is the start of that revolution.
But what about you? Are you ready to blissfully embrace this marriage of technology and finance? Or are you sceptical about the benefits or safety of services like Pingit?