Zapp, a new mobile payments system, has signed up HSBC, Santander, First Direct, Nationwide and others -- so more than a third of UK current account holders will be able to use it to pay directly from their accounts without cash or card.
It works by generating a unique code for each transaction, and will be integrated into banks' own apps, meaning users are more likely to trust the system. It'll show your balance before you authorise each purchase, so you can be sure you can afford that shiny new toy, and payments are instant.
Like other payment systems, it's worthless if no shops sign up. In Zapp's case, retailers will have to add Zapp as a payment option at checkout, which will then launch your bank's app, where you'll authorise the purchase. If you're in a shop, you'll be able to pay by tapping your phone to a wavey-pavey terminal and then using the app. You'll also be able to pay bills using QR codes.
"We will be the only payment method where at the point of sale the customer can see the real-time balance of their accounts," Zapp CEO Peter Keenan told the BBC. "And because they are using a smart phone, it allows them to keep a record of all their spending and purchases in one device."
The app's maker Vocalink, which is owned by a consortium of 18 banks, says it's more secure than other payment systems too, because your account details aren't shared. You have to enter your passcode for every payment, so losing your phone won't compromise your account.
While there are several mobile wallet systems already in limited use in the UK -- Visa and Barclays each have one, as do some phone networks and Google -- Zapp is the first to sign up a significant number of banks, meaning it has a better chance of becoming a mainstream payment system. The banks already on board account (ha) for 18 million UK customers, according to the FT (paywall link).
Zapp is set for a September launch. Would you use your phone to buy stuff if it was as easy as Zapp promises? Do you think it's more or less secure than using a debit card? Use our authorised comments section below, or pay a visit to our Facebook page.