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Barclays deal to allow retailers to refund directly to mobile could reboot m-payments

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Barclays is create a platform that will allow retailers and other businesses to send payments directly to customer bank accounts using only their mobile number in a move that will revolutionise how business refund consumers.

The move comes on the back of a deal between Barclays and payment platform company Bottomline Technologies, which will see Barclays combine its Pingit phone-to-phone payment service with the payback powers of Bottomline.

To use the service, companies and customers must be registered with Pingit or the more generic Paym services, which currently covers some 5million people in the UK – however, according to Payments UK, 40million are eligible to sign up for Pingit or Paym so this service has the potential to become mainstream.

The move would be a boon for retailers as it means that refunds can be done quickly and easily and without having to hold onto personal banking details. It would also cut down on costly paperwork.

Richard Ransom, a manager at Bottomline, said that he expected the service to appeal in particular to utility and insurance groups “that still rely on high volumes of costly cheque generation”.

Northern Gas Networks, for example, already uses Pingit to pay customers who have been without gas for more than 24 hours because of an emergency or gas mains replacement. As the gas provider does not hold the bank details of many customers, the service allows it to make instant payments without using the lengthy cheque process for compensation.

The move is interesting as mobile payments – very much the hot topic in mobile and retail in 2015 – has seen little take up and interest among customers and retailers has waned somewhat.

Linking big brands to refunds this way could be the much needed spur to getting consuemrs to sign up to Paym and/or Pingit and see the start of these services actually begin in earnest in retail.

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