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Barclays’ Pingit – will pinging money over your phone take off?

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?


Saw in Aussie-made Science & Technology programme Beyond 2000
hand-held contactless electronic devices had been used to effect (small)
payments way back in the mid-90s if not earlier in Japan. If
using same technology, had been around for quite some time.

Am all for making life simpler or more convenient.

Nice idea, shame about the lack of security. Banks said chip and pin was secure (from my experience I know how that’s just a blatant lie). I for one won’t be making use it ( being organised has its advantages ) and will eagerly await the first news story of how people mysteriously lose upto £300 a time all because banks and phone companies have no idea of what security is. Anyone remember the phone hacking scandal that’s still trundling along ?

Matheus says:
28 March 2012

It should be said that the “Phone Hacking” didn’t actually involve any phones being hacked in fact it didn’t involve any hacking. It was just people using insecure passwords for their voicemail no phone were actually hacked.

This doesn’t have anything to do with phone operators above using your mobile number as unique identifier.

And why your are eagerly awaiting news of someone else’s misfortune is beyond me.

Just didn’t want you to continue misunderstanding the things you referred too.

The reason I blame phone companies for the phone hacking is, how much effort would it take for them to issues phones with a random password and not the same insecure default ones. Not alot me thinks. But they have chosen to rely on people doing it for them.

Shd expect the banks to underwrite losses in cases of
fraud AND on the basis of a presumption of innocence
nothing less.

Shall wait awhile and see how things go before embracing

Hmmm, and these would be the same banks who would blame everyone for being careless with our pins, when its them being careless about security. We will have to wait and see whether the banks behave as you hope or as they’ve always done.

I don’t want to stand in the way of new technology, but Barclays needs to be sure about the security of the system or all customers will pay, whether or not they use the system.

Personally I think I’m more likely to keep using online banking at the moment, especially as I am not a Barclays customer and I find online banking straightforward to use and secure. But I might use mobile banking in the future when it becomes more widespread – I do think it is the future especially for the younger generation. Like all new technology it needs a bit of time to bed in so people can see for themselves if it works and how secure it is. So for me it is a wait and see!

AM Miller says:
24 February 2012

I downloaded the PingIt app onto my Samsung Galaxy Note the day it was made available here in the UK. Validating it for use on my phone was extremely thorough… as thorough as applying for and validating online banking. Whilst I’m unlikely to use PingIt for paying friends (a £50 cap is in place), I do find the app extremely useful for checking the balance of my current account without needing to log in on my PC and needing to use a card reader. Access to the app (after validation) is still very secure because a 5-digit passcode (chosen by the account holder) needs entering each and every time you access the app. 10 out of 10 from me for Barclay’s PingIt!

As this idea has been opperating in other countries for years I would expect any security issues to have been covered although I’m sure a new scam will emerge in time.
There is presumably no human involvement in the process so I wonder how much the banks will deem [and get away with unless the new watchdog intervenes] an aprpriate charge for each transfer.

Re my comments about security.

Just read the Access all Areas section on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11217012

and you’ll see just how easy it can be for someone to plant some dodgey software on your “smart” phone that could record your very secure 5 digit passcode, well I’m sure you can imagine the rest.

And given the IQ of alot of smart phones users I rest my case.

ronnie says:
13 November 2012

Pingit is associated to only 1 phone.

So in your scenario, someone needs to have installed this “dodgey software” on your phone, waited for you to use Pingit so that they can find out your 5 digit pass code, steal your phone and then log in to steal up to £300 per day.

It would be easier to simply steal money from a wallet.

Also this fraud would be covered by banks.

So for me the benefits of this technology far outweigh conspiracy theory like scaremongering.

Paige says:
12 December 2015

Also to go with your comment if someone steals your phone you can remotely wipe it.

It will be interesting to see how many businesses start using Pingit. I’ve found one carpenter in shrewsbury who accepts Pingit payments, but that’s it so far.

Gordon Bell says:
25 February 2012

Pingit is quite different from “mobile money” used in Kenya and East Africa. Mobile money is generally used when the sender or the receiver or both do not have bank accounts. The sender pays cash to an agent who transfers the amount less a charge to their mobile phone. The sender can then make transfers to receivers’ mobile phones who then have to visit an agent to obtain the cash. The service is quite costly but convenient where most of the population do not have bank accounts, or in small communities where there are no banks. Phone companies are possibly making more income from this new business than their traditional business.

Alsho says:
25 February 2012

Would you give YOUR bank details to someone else with a mobile phone? I don’t think so.

MogaDon says:
27 February 2012

@Alsho – you don’t need to give anyone your bank details, just your mobile number. That’s how it works. The Pingit app does the rest. Other services like this are likely to launch this year, so better get used to it.

In the programme abt Japan that I saw in Beyond 2000 in around the
mid-1990s, the transactions were in respect of payments made direct from
shopper to shopkeeper via a contactless electronic handheld device
much like cash were used to effect payment of purchase.

Banking Insider says:
26 February 2012

For those worried about security, it is reassuring to see that people are at least aware of the dangers. I imagine that Barclays will have considered all of the possible attack vectors including handset-based trojans. I suspect that they’ll have invested very heavily in security which normally involves working with 3rd party security experts. Don’t forget that they are liable for any losses so skimping on security wouldn’t make a lot of business sense.

Hmmm. I have never trusted banks since they said that phantom ATM withdrawals could occur.

Barclays will certainly be liable for security breaches but it is us – the customers – who end up paying, in the same way that we pay shops for losses due to shoplifting.

Hmmm. Have you forgetten that these same banks were the first to blame customers for being careless with their pins. I’d like to think they’re not the same banks but somehow I doubt it. And whilst bank “bashing”, even though you need to pay ridiculous amounts to get the best exactly how did the economy get in the mess it is ? Oh yes the banks again.

And as fair as me being aware, it’s not me I’m worried, as I don’t have a mobile (its called living within your means) or bank with Barclays.

You’d think that with so called smart phones they’d make you use a random finger print on the screen for secuirty. Although I’m sure it wouldnt be long before people have phones and fingers stolen then.

More news on another type of mobile payment:
Vodafone unveils the ‘mobile wallet’ that will see smartphones swiped at the till to pay for shopping: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/bills/article-2107185/Vodafone-launches-mobile-wallet-Visa-use-smartphones-pay-shopping.html

I don’t understand what the fuss is about. How exactly is this revolutionary? For years it has been possible to do Internet banking on your smartphone. If you don’t want to use bank details, you can then use Paypal (which is free for payments between friends), where all you need is the payee’s email address. In fact you don’t even need a smartphone to use Paypal, you can send money using a text message.

Gems says:
6 March 2012

I’ve been using this app for a couple of weeks and I have to say it’s great! I use to have to go to the bank in the middle of work if my sister needed some extra cash – she’s a student so always has hiccups with her money. This has been great and saved a lot of time for myself and her. All it does is use your mobile number which you have registered with barclays (and you have to prove it by putting in a pin sentry passcode which you put your debit card into) once this number is linked to your account you can start using the service.
One concern I do have is if I lose my iphone what do I do but that’s why I suppose you have the option to wipe your iphone so no information on your handset gets seen by anybody else.
I love how you can ping money on a sat or sun and it arrives instantly, I think as long as you keep in touch with using your internet banking ping it allows you to make easier transactions.
I will certainly keep using this app I hope the other banks bring out a similar thing.

shelima01 says:
8 March 2012

hmm… well I just wanted to know a bit more about the service, after reading the above comments I have to agree that “I don’t see what all the fuss is about” !!! security is paramount to us all, esp in this day and age, I don’t think a big bank like Barclays is going to take this lightly, also you will either use it and love it or not, just like mobile phones….. some people do some don’t

having read the info I will certainly be trialling it, I’m sure its just like when they first launch ebanking all those years ago and will slowly become the norm!

max says:
20 March 2012

This is the most pathetic attempt by Barclays – the system is great if you have an account with Barclays but plain awful if you don’t. Please do yourself a favour and avoid. You will spend a lot of time with some muppet on their help line being asked for your inside leg measurement for ‘security purposes’. Sadly somebody has gone live with this app way before the problems have been solved. Go on Barclays, pretend you’re not a customer of Barclays and see what a beautiful messyou make of things.

Well all those who disagreed with my concerns over lack of security, might like to see what BBCs Watchdog has just tweeted … Friday’s @Channel4News showed how Barclays contactless card owners can have their details stolen. Another card is also at risk. BBC1 8pm

Barclays would be the same bank that brought you Pingit. Its only a matter of time …

Or watch it here … http://www.channel4.com/news/millions-of-barclays-card-users-exposed-to-fraud

The data isn’t even encrypted, sigh. Doesn’t look like they take security seriously at all.