Barclays launches mobile rival to PayPal

Pingit service will be expanded to customers of other banks next month

Barclays has launched a mobile payments service to rival the PayPal system.

PayPal allows registered users to make payments over the Internet by simply using an email address linked to their banking details. The new Barclays service - called Pingit - allows users to make payments using their mobile number linked to their current account.

The service will initially be available to Barclays customers but the bank says all current accounts from other banks and building societies will be able to use Pingit from next month (March).

Users can both send and receive money for free using UK phone and bank accounts. With PayPal - which can be used globally - the recipient of cash is usually charged a fee.

Both systems enable two parties to transfer and receive cash without having to share their banking details. PayPal has become popular with many online merchants to do business, knowing that online purchasers often don't want to share their bank account numbers.

Pingit could potentially rival PayPal in ecommerce if merchants can set up a mobile number linked to their trading account, which would enable them to avoid fees for receiving cash.

The service works via a mobile app for either Apple's iOS, Google's Android or RIM's BlackBerry. Payments can also be made over the web with users registering online. The app is protected by a five-digit passcode set by the user.

Barclays said: "It is expected that this will prove particularly popular for friends and family sending money to each other. Barclays Pingit can also be used by some small business customers of Barclays and other banks, for example sole traders such as window cleaners or plumbers, meaning customers can pay them quickly, easily and securely."

Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking, said: "Barclays Pingit could revolutionise the way people send and receive money."