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Barclays turns payment app into one stop shop

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Barclays has revamped its peer-to-peer payment app, PingIt, to allow consumers to use the service to pay utility bills and to buy goods direct from billboards, magazine adverts and even from the TV.

Buy It is designed in Barclays’ words, “to bridge the gap between advertising and sales by enabling consumers to purchase advertised goods and services” and uses QR scanning built into the app to let PingIt app users scan adverts and buy in six clicks – five of which are the digits of the user’s pass code.

The company has also rolled out Check Out, which again uses QR codes on utility bills – or any other paper item – to let users pay via their PingIt app.

The development of Buy It and Check Out mark a distinct move for PingIt away from just allowing peer-to-peer payments towards making it a simple and – for Barclays account holders at least – convenient way to pay using mobile. It also opens up the world of advertising to being a direct sales channel.

“For mobile enabled businesses this is a great way to increase sales conversion, by reducing payment input errors and increased customer assurance at checkout,” says Mike Walters, head of corporate payments at Barclays. “For new players in the market it is an easy, low risk way to enter the world of m-commerce.”

To make the service work, Barclays effectively plugs into the merchant’s APIs and back end systems and then runs the whole shooting match for the retailer. This means that, once in the PingIt app, the consumer is in a walled garden, protected by Barclays’ security. Once an order has been placed by the customer, Barclays passes this information on – along with the money – to the merchant to fulfil it.

The move marks a distinct step forward in mobile payments, opening it up – to Barclays’ customers at least – to potential widespread adoption. The use of QR codes, while derided by technologists, also adds an element of trust and recognition to consumers, which Barclays believes will drive adoption.

The move comes just weeks after VocaLink launched its Zapp payment app, and comes hot on the heels of Oxygen8 forming a partnership with mPayMe to launch a similar QR code based mobile wallet.

PingIt has been something of a runaway success in the mobile payments space with 1.8 million downloads so far – 13% of which are non-Barclays account holders – and some 2.3 million payments having been made through the app. The average payment value is £70 – with consumers prepared to move around far more money than the bank thought they would, when they launched in February 2011, says Walters. “We thought it would be beer money. £70 means there is a lot that can be bought this way and we have developed this idea in Buy It and Check out, which have an upper limit of £15,000.”

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