Barclays Starts U.K. Mobile Phones Service to Transfer Money

Barclays Plc, the U.K. bank led by Robert Diamond, today begins a service to enable its 11.9 million checking account customers to transfer money to one another using mobile phones.

Barclays’s Pingit application will allow users to send as much as 300 pounds ($470) a day by linking their mobile phone number to their checking account details. Anyone with a U.K. checking account will be able to receive payments and the service will be expanded to customers without a Barclays account by early March, the London-based bank said in the statement.

Barclays, Britain’s third-largest bank by assets, last week its U.K. consumer unit division increased pretax profit by 3 percent to 1.02 billion pounds in 2011 from the year-earlier period. Antony Jenkins, consumer banking head, in June promised a “simpler, more effective way to do business.” The bank said Pingit is the first of its kind in Europe.

“Once people start to use the service they’ll like it, they’ll become very happy to do business with Barclays and the next time they think about getting a mortgage, savings account or credit card they’ll think of Barclays,” Jenkins said in an interview today.

Development was started in the middle of last year, and the bank is betting it can attract customers now to keep them away from any competitor’s systems that may emerge, he said.

“Once you’ve got people in the system, they’ve got no incentive to go anywhere else, so why use another service?” he said.

The application can be used on Apple Inc. iPhones, Google Inc.’s Android and Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry, the lender said. Bill payments, international payments could be added to the software, Jenkins said.

“We have plenty of ideas in the hopper,” said Jenkins.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek