Bung a tenner to a mate's mobile number with new Barclays app
Just like PayPal but with phone numbers
PingIt is Barclays' answer to PayPal and its ilk, linking payments to a mobile-phone number instead of an email address but providing a banking brand to back them up.
Initially only those with a Barclays current account are able to make payments, but anyone with a UK bank can register their phone number to receive money - the transactions being addressed to a mobile number so bank account details aren't shared between payer and payee. Transfers should take about 30 seconds, and can be completed with a couple of taps on the screen.
The system is managed though mobile apps, which are available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. There's also a website for those not equipped with the latest technology but who still want to get involved.
Right now the service is also just for individuals, though Barclays points out that might include "sole traders such as window cleaners or plumbers", so they can receive payments addressed to their mobile phone. The payments are capped at £300, so not too much plumbing, but should be enough to clean a few windows.
Payments are free to both parties, for the moment at least, but should the system prove popular then it seems likely that businesses will have to start paying just like they do for any other kind of transfer. There's no obvious advertising, but the app has asked us a couple of times if we'd like a free trial of Kaspersky's Android offering (as it had noticed we weren't running any security software) - it also refuses to run on "rooted" devices (which have been hacked to allow inter-app communications amongst other things) citing security issues.
Intriguingly the app's licence includes a reference to Google Maps and Google Earth (as well as the obligatory nod to the open-source crypto stack SSLeay) - presumably for the Barclays branch locator.
The bank reckons PingIt is ideal for friends and family wanting to transfer a tenner or two between them, and points out that the speed of transfers make it ideal. It's a market where PayPal would like to be, but one shouldn't underestimate the value of a trusted (even if not particularly liked) brand when it comes to underwriting mobile payments. ®