Barclays launches mobile banking app in “watershed” moment


Barclays is launching a mobile banking app, dubbed Pingit, as the UK bank aims to bolster the adoption of mobile banking in the country (view press release). Barclays retail and business banking CEO, Antony Jenkins, says that the service will “revolutionise” the way consumers manage their finances, telling the Daily Telegraph that the shift to mobile banking could be as large as the launch of the credit card.

“We think we’re at a transformational moment for banking,” says Jenkins. “I don’t believe financial services have been transformed by technology yet. All that has happened is that we have replicated in the virtual world what we do in the physical one.”

Pingit enables users to transfer up to GBP300 (USD470) to another user through their smartphone by dialling their phone number, removing the need for bank details. Barclays is defending the service’s security, with users having to input a five-digit security code to access the app. Although Pingit is currently only available to Barclays’ near 12m customers, the firm says it has plans to roll it out to other UK banks over the next month, a move that could significantly boost the profile of mobile banking as smartphone adoption continues.

Barclays will be hoping that its early move into the mobile banking market will give it an advantage over rival banks. The decision to launch in the UK makes sense, with smartphone penetration in the country already above that of France, Germany, Japan and the US, according to a recent study by Ipsos Mori. Pingit, which is available on Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, is the largest full-scale mobile banking service to launch in the UK. In addition to peer-to-peer money transfers, a secure widespread mobile banking platform could benefit smaller businesses that wish to take electronic payments. Though the service does not yet support near-field technology (NFC), it is possible the capabilities can be added as smartphone capabilities improve.

If Pingit gains significant traction, there remains the possibility of integrating mobile payments to the platform, enabling consumers to pay for goods in bricks and mortar stores using their smartphone. Barclays is yet to comment on the possibility of adding mobile payments, with Jenkins only saying that “we have plenty of ideas in the hopper”. Any such move would see Barclays entering a highly competitive space, with mobile operators such as O2 already working on mobile payment services, and US platforms such as Google Wallet and PayPal Mobile looking to expand their reach into Europe.


Related reading

Leave a comment