Mobile Money – Pay by Text

18 January 2013

We are a generation obsessed with convenience, and we see more and more day to day tasks being carried out on the device that is sat in our pocket – from grocery shopping to booking a train ticket; reading the newspaper to watching TV. So it’s hardly surprising that the mobile phone will soon become an integral part of your personal banking.

This week, The Payment Council announced that from Spring 2014 we will be able to send money to anyone, anywhere in the UK, by simply knowing their mobile number. So if you’re looking to transfer or receive money from another individual, there’ll be no exchanges of account numbers and sort-codes – just a telephone number, which is information you’ll more than likely already have to hand.

Admittedly, you won’t be able to send money to any Tom, Dick or Harry. The intended recipient will be required to enrol in the service with their bank. But once that’s done, it’ll take less than a minute to transfer the cash – and a similar amount of time for that cash to arrive with the recipient, using the banking industry’s “faster payments” system.

Mobile phones are already being utilised for internet and telephone banking services, with some banks having their own apps linked to the users account. But there’s no doubt that this new development in banking will concern many consumers

So, “what if your phone was lost or stolen?” – Possibly the first question that will have been asked when this move was suggested. Could another individual in possession of your phone begin transferring cash to other mobile numbers?

The team behind this initiative are already considering risks involved in this move, and they’ve started to make the public aware of some of the security features they plan to have in place. No doubt they will have learnt from NatWest bank’s mistakes with their “Get Cash” app, a scheme that allowed account holders to withdraw cash without a debit card. Fraudsters were targeting customers with phishing attacks, and gaining access to the service which led to the app being suspended in October 2012, shortly after its launch.

The Payment Council stated that there will be security measures in place, likely to be a passcode to try and prevent abuse to the system. The banks will also have the ability to remotely disable services. This may come into affect if there is suspicious activity on the account, or if the mobile networks advise the bank that a phone has been lost, stolen or is no longer in use by the account holder.

Will these measures be enough to prevent the system having a similar fate to last year’s ‘Get Cash’ app? Or will users become victims of hacking and fraud? The Payment Council and the financial institutes involved have little over a year to ensure the success of this new mobile banking initiative.

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