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London - Transferring money could soon be as easy as sending a text, thanks to a smartphone app released on Thursday.
It allows people to send up to £300 (about R3 600) by entering the recipient’s mobile phone number, removing the need to know sort codes and account numbers.
The free Pingit app is the latest hi-tech challenger to the cheque. It transfers money instantly, allowing the recipient to withdraw it from a cash machine straight away.
The system has been developed by Barclays, but will be available to customers of other banks and building societies from next month.
At first it will only allow individuals to transfer cash to each other, but there are plans to open it up for use with businesses and charities. In order to send money, customers must have a smartphone such as an iPhone or BlackBerry and download the Pingit app. They must also enter their account details and set up a five-digit PIN. Those receiving a Pingit transfer do not need a smartphone themselves, but must be registered for the service.
Barclays said the technology had “huge potential”, with 50 percent of the population expected to have a smartphone by the end of the year.
The bank’s head of current accounts, Dan Wass, said the app was “the first service of this type to be launched across Europe”. He added: “It is like having a bank in your pocket all the time. It allows you to send payments to anyone in the UK, simply by knowing their mobile number ... [it] makes sending and receiving money as easy, quick and convenient as sending a text. Payments such as sending money to children, for a birthday or spending money, or even to a window cleaner, can be made in seconds.”
At first, only over-18s will be able to use Pingit, but the age limit is likely to be lowered in the coming months.
Barclays stressed that the system is secure, and said that if a customer’s mobile phone is stolen, thieves would not be able to send money without the five-digit PIN. Users will also be able to disable the app if their phone is lost or stolen. - Daily Mail