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Rubbish UK mobile & banking industries finally get a clue about mobile text payments (next year)

Dear reader:

Have a quick read of this post from Emily over at Textually. I quote the key explanatory bit here:

UK mobile users will be able to send and receive money by sharing only their phone number by Spring 2014, the Payments Council has said, reports the BBC.

via Payments by text message service to launch in UK in Spring 2014.

Yeah. Shocking.

ABSOLUTELY flipping shocking.

It feels like EVERYONE else on the planet has had this functionality for what feels like DECADES and we’re now getting it here in the UK. WHERE SMS was FLIPPING invented.


FARMERS IN FLIPPING FIELDS IN FLIPPING AFRICA can do this. And yet our creaking, aching, rubbishy slow mobile and banking industries couldn’t work it out — CAN’T work it out — until twenty-bloddy-fourteen?

Significantly unimpressed of Hampshire


  1. As previously announced by the Payments Council, this was actually supposed to be introduced in 2013 unless I am very much mistaken. The purpose of the recent press release was to delay previous commitments.

    They have been talking about this for years anyway so I wouldn’t be too surprised if new promises and/or delays are announced in 2014. How difficult can it be?

  2. So as someone who works for the company that helped Vodafone/Safaricom give users similar (but very different ) capability, let me try to put some context here.

    The original projects in Africa all required a new SIM so be sent to any subscriber. The existing SIM was not deemed secure enough and therefore we put a lot more security into the product. To do this in the UK would be costly – about £600m or so. Additionally there was no retail bank involvement making it a much simpler proposition. To compare the likes of mPesa to this is not totally fair (although Barclays did take inspiration from it for Pingit).

    Until very recently in the UK there has been little or no demand from people to actually have this. With easy access to cash via the ATM network, P2P via mobile was just not being asked for. However, with the launch of Pingit and the O2 Money service it was seen that actually if it’s built people will use it (and it’s worth knowing how Pingit came into existence . But with a mobile population of over 60m and with 8 banks wanting to be involved, it has proven difficult at times to get agreement. Additionally, someone has to pay for this. Vocalink are funded by the banks and that agreement also took time.

    The complexity of the integration into the Faster Payments network is not to be underestimated as if all users sent money at the same time it would crash. So the infrastructure has to be right.

    All in all, I think the timing makes sense. Much rather have it work properly next year than fall over this year.

  3. Sensible points Raymond and I think you’re right to highlight the technical challenges. 2014 though?

    Come on. 2014?

    Where were the smart alecs in 2008 thinking “yeah, we should get this live for 2009”?

  4. There was no will to do it back in 2008 and not sure the banks had the money. Also, don’t forget that Vocalink was born out of the LINK ATM network so why would banks look to eat into the revenue from that.

    We (the work we) had been talking to clients about this for some time but there was just no will or budget. Barclays came along and changed that.

  5. I developed a pay-by-text service to replace cheques for SMEs in 2007 when I worked for a UK High Street bank. It was not developed because of the bank’s concerns over risk and security. The UK banking industry’s obsession with security means that many innovative mobile services available in other markets will no be marketed here. Vodafone/’s M-Pesa being just one example. Getting banks to agree on anything is like herding cats and this is their vulnerability. They risk marter, leaner, more responsive businesses disintermediating them and reducing them to money-processing factories.

  6. Yes. If i still worked for a bank I’d be very worried about Google, PayPal, Square, V-me, iZettle, Oscar… the list goes on


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