‘Barclays will become the first bank in the UK to allow people to make payments to each other and small businesses using just their Twitter handle. The service – powered by its Pingit mobile phone app – aims to give Britain’s 13.5m Twitter users the ability to make swift, secure payments through the social network without providing either their bank details or a phone number. All Pingit users can take advantage of the service, regardless of whether they bank with Barclays, by linking their Twitter account to their Pingit profile under the app’s settings menu. The service will be launching on both Android phones and iOS devices on 10 March.
Source: Financial Times, The Guardian’
We admit that while we’re familiar with Barclays (there’s one across the road), Twitter (we tweet), apps (we have one and it’s free) and indeed the concept of payments, the mechanics of Pingit are less familiar to us. (On reflection, if it’s on a mobile telephone then it’s probably electronic in nature rather than mechanical. See what we mean?) We’re uncertain of the etymology of Pingit: a fusion of ‘Ping it’ is our best guess, but it also happens to be the Latin for ‘he, she or it paints’ and, worryingly, a combination of PIN and git.
It’s worth pointing out that not all of Britain’s 13.5m users will be able to use this service: the minimum age for Pingit users is 16. If you’re cautious about the security of smartphones and electronic payments, or you feel it would be unacceptably republican to dispense with Her Majesty’s face in your wallet, then this isn’t for you. But we feel that anything that helps small businesses to grow is worthy of a welcome. Ditto anything that enables the average Twitter account to be more than a conduit for verbal diarrhoea.
“Adding the ability to pay people or a small business using just a Twitter handle brings together a social and digital experience to create a new step forward for mobile payments in the UK,” the Director of Barclays Mobile Banking and Pingit has said via its Newsroom. If this is merely empty twittering, time will tell.