Last week Barclays unboxed Pingit -- the service that allows mobile users with a Barclays current account to ping people up to £300 a day via the Pingit app on their smart phone. It works by linking a bank account with a mobile user's phone number in your contacts book, and is designed for settling small IOUs among friends.
In order to send or receive money via Barclays Pingit, mobile users must
register for the service -- handing over their mobile number and bank
account details and jumping through a series of security hoops to ensure
they are properly verified. To receive money via Pingit, all that's
needed is a mobile capable of receiving an SMS and a sign-up to the service.
Thisismoney.co.uk reckons rival UK banks are scrambling to unleash their own money transfer services because Barclays has signalled it will open up Pingit to customers of other banks "soon". The finance website claims Royal Bank of Scotland, owner of NatWest, and Lloyds Banking Group are both looking to launch similar services, although HSBC reportedly has no current plans to launch a mobile money transfer app or service.
Non-Barclays customers can't yet send cash but can still register to receive payments. This gives Barclays the opportunity to market its services to customers of other banks, reckons thisismoney.co.uk. Barclays' head-start on rivals could turn Pingit into the industry standard, the site predicts.
Mobiles and money have been linked before via near field communication (NFC). This contactless swipe-to-pay technology has been embedded in a limited range of mobiles, including some BlackBerry handsets running the BlackBerry 7.1 OS and the Google Wallet handset, which launched in the US last year but has yet to make it over the pond.
While Pingit is designed for individuals to ping money to each other, NFC is aimed at quick low-value transactions in shops, as you swipe the phone over a reader. However, two NFC-enabled phones can also be used to transfer money between them, by touching them together. The latest version of PayPal's Android app adds an NFC transfer feature.
The downside of NFC transfers is that you do have to be in the same room as your payee. But you don't have to give away your mobile number to splash a little cash.
Have you managed to successfully ping a pony to your mobile mates? Let us know what you think of Pingit in the comments below or brag about the speed of your transfers on our Facebook page.