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Payments Platform Strategy and Sourcing
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Evert R Fekkes, SVP, Payment & Savings Services – Rabobank Nederland

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Apr 2012 - Goodbye cheques?

The ongoing struggle to find a replacement system for paper cheques received a boost this week with the announcement by Barclays that they are extending their Pingit system to users of other banks. Many alternatives to cheques already exist of course but may need adapting, explaining or making more widely available to gain traction with the public. Using cheques can be a matter of habit particularly for older customers but many consumers already use Direct Debits and standing orders for paying regular bills and commitments, credit and debit cards and Faster Payments Service for same-day phone and internet payments and we have mobile payments, prepaid cards and the ubiquitous PayPal to add to the mix.
The Pingit system however seems to have the advantage of simplicity as it allows you to send money just by using a mobile phone number, to virtually any bank and building society current account customer.  The app was originally launched in February for Barclays customers to send money this way, though other account holders could register to receive cash. Now, they can send money even if they don't know the recipient's sort code or account number.  To send and receive cash users will have to download the app, register and set up a mini-account with Barclays.   This will be linked to their normal current account. They can then move money between the two.  Users make and receive payments from the mini-Barclays account, which effectively becomes a pre-paid account they top up to use.  Any customer who only wants to receive money using Pingit doesn't have to set up a mini-account or download the app. They can register online, and if their mobile is linked to their current account, the cash will go straight in.
The system links the user's current account with their mobile number, so those sending cash only need the recipient’s (typically your window cleaner) phone number.  Money is sent using the Faster Payments service, which enables electronic transfers to be processed within two hours, 24/7.  Payments must range between £1 and £300. The maximum someone can receive in a day is £5,000.  Barclays says transfers are as secure as any other banking transaction. The app is protected by a five-digit code set by the user.  Senders and recipients will also be notified about sent, received, pending and cancelled payments via a text from Barclays.  If the number of users continues to increase as it did when Pingit was first launched it could vey quickly become the ‘business as usual’ system everyone is looking for.

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