P2P Payments to Launch Across Seven UK Banks in April

Vocalink, the bank-backed organisation behind BACs, Faster Payments and Link ATMs, has revealed that its first product to market will be a peer-to-peer mobile payments platform launching in April.

The service will use people’s mobile number as a proxy for their bank details – validated by each respective bank – and will still use the same Vocalink infrastructure as traditional payments. As part of its agreement to deliver these services, Vocalink has a target of 5m opted-in users at launch, with a total of 25m expected in its first year.

Banks, of which seven will be participating at launch, covering more than 90 per cent of UK current accounts, are also expected to communicate the launch to their customers in order to reach these targets. The service, which will have a name as of this month, is part of a basic product being built by Vocalink on behalf of The Payments Council to work across banks, on which they can then launch their own competitive services via their branded apps. The Cumberland Building Society – the smallest institution going live in April – will be offering a ‘balance peek’ service, where users can swipe for a quick look at their account balance without signing in to their app, a service piloted by San Fran’s Bank of the West.

It is not yet clear how Zapp, another Vocalink project focused on in store payments and a mobile checkout, will work with the P2P platform.

No NFC, no fight with Pingit

Nick Daniel, head of business development at Vocalink, said that the use of NFC will not be a question for Vocalink, he added that the P2P system would not be in competition and that there will be levels of overlap.

Asked what the P2P payments launch, and other Vocalink projects, mean for the future of something like Barclays Pingit, Dave Picton, project manager at The Payments Council, which will ensure that mobile payments work, said: “The new platform will be able to do some stuff that Pingit can’t do. We meet with Barclays as they are one of our members and they don’t believe there will be any element of degradation of their product. In fact, it should complement their services and could increase adoption as more people become aware of mobile payment options.”

Vocalink says it is also open to being petitioned by non-traditional players, the likes of Paypal, as long as they meet miniumum requirements. Daniel said that a more open banking system will be legislated for in the new banking reforms currently being considered by Parliament.