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February 24, 2012

Small firms cautiously welcome new cash-transfer mobile app

Small businesses have cautiously welcomed a new mobile app which allows users to transfer cash for free to anyone with a UK mobile phone number and current account, writes Georgina Harris.

Barclays Pingit app, which allows people to ‘text’ cash to each other, is free to download and allows users to receive up to £300 in cash on their mobile – even if they don’t have a Barclays account. Those without smartphones can register their number on the Barclays website to receive payments.

For the next two months, only Barclays customers can send money, but everyone who downloads or registers online for Pingit can receive cash and get notified of the payment via text on their phone.

Small-business owner Amanda Ruiz of LocalPR said that she would use it. “It looks like it’s a fantastic revolution for small businesses for receiving payments or friends splitting restaurant bills,” she said.

Pingit is PIN-protected and businesses don’t have to share their bank details, which reduces the risk of fraud. However, online safety experts have warned about the risks in using cashless payment options.

Get Safe Online, the public and private sector internet safety advice organisation, pointed out that some online traders don’t as yet vet customer details thoroughly. This creates a risk of fraudsters accessing the system as a ‘faux customer’, allowing them to steal financial details from legitimate users.

While the warning is not directed at the app specifically, small firms have also voiced safety concerns. Hamish Newhouse, owner of a niche marketing business, said: “I think it will be the future of money transfer – I just hope the security is up to scratch.”

Creativity coach Callie Carling was keen, but also tentative. “Although I have downloaded the app, I’m still very wary of using it even as a consumer, much less accepting it as payment,” she said. “I’ll watch from the side-lines over the next few weeks.”

Commenting on the security concerns, Get Safe Online managing director Tony Neate said:

“Pingit and apps that allow users to make payments via their mobile are innovative and convenient solutions for many types of transactions. But users need to be aware that someone could create a new ‘copycat’ app and place it in an uncontrolled and unmonitored site.

“Users also need to ensure their phones are secured with a login so their phone is protected in case it is lost or stolen,” he added.