The UK Payments Council has commissioned VocaLink to build a central database that will allow bank customers to link their mobile phone number to their account for person-to-person mobile payments.
This database is 'phase one' of the Payments Council's mobile payments strategy and is expected to be implemented before the year is out. Chris Dunne, strategy director at VocaLink, says that the mobile numbers database will be available to any UK bank or building society, which is a member of Faster Payments or the Link ATM network. The database will be populated by bank customers who have 'opted' to provide their bank with their mobile number as part of the database project.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, says that he believes UK banks will start to develop their own proprietary mobile payments apps in parallel with the building of the VocaLink-managed database.
Dunne demonstrated what a person to person payment, using a bank app, 'might' look like, once the database platform is available, to Finextra today. Mock bank apps were used - from 'Alpha Bank' and 'Beta Bank' - to facilitate the faux payments on demonstration iPhones.
Conspicuously absent from the Payments Council's demonstration was Barclays Bank, which launched a person-to-person payments app, Barclays Pingit, late last week.
Quizzed on why the Payments Council chose to showcase a mock, demonstration-only, bank app, rather than a live mobile payments app from a UK bank, Kamellard responded: The Barclays app is for Barclays customers only, while the Payments Council platform will serve as the infrastructure for banks to develop their own commercial payments apps that will enable payments between disparate bank accounts.
Barclays, which claims to have logged 20,000 downloads of PingIt in the first three days after its launch, plans to open up the app to all UK bank and building society account holders next month. Barclays is also generating interest from small traders who want to use the app to conduct money transfer transactions with customers.
Richard Martin, head of innovation at the Payments Council says that mobile payments apps, supported by the Vocalink database, will focus on person-to-person payments initially and move on to support retail payments at 'small merchants who do not have card facilities.'
He adds that payments supported by this developing infrastructure included person-to-person, person-to-business and business-to-person payments.