Barclays has introduced a new feature on its Pingit person-to-person money transfer application that brings retailers in the U.K. into the mobile payments fold.
The new Buyit mobile payment feature allows consumers to scan QR codes from in-store advertisements, in magazines or online. After the consumer scans the code, Buyit prompts for a payment from the user's bank account, says Darren Foulds, product director of Pingit and mobile banking for Barclays.
"Pingit has been really popular with our customers and it still receives a four-star rating after 10,000 consumer reviews," Foulds says.
Many observers considered London-based Barclays' launch of Pingit in early 2012 a significant boon for mobile money transfers as well as mobile wallet awareness and acceptance in the U.K.
Barclays initially provided the Pingit service only to its customers, but eventually made it available to all consumers. Its ease of use has been instrumental in its popularity, especially among younger consumers, Foulds says.
The bank hopes that by adding the Buyit function, merchants will find the service beneficial, Foulds says.
"We already have a number of corporate propositions with the use of QR codes," Foulds says. "Consumers can pay their utility bills by scanning the QR codes on the bills."
Barclays plans to develop more use cases for QR codes, Foulds says. "We are getting a lot of interest from corporate clients."
The addition of Buyit to Barclays' Pingit offering is "yet another manifestation of a trend that we are seeing with more payments being enabled directly from a bank account," says Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst for research firm Celent.
There is no doubt that Pingit has been a popular application for UK consumers, Bareisis says.
"Pingit is very popular, with 1.6 million downloads as of this month," Bareisis says. "Downloads don't mean usage, but in Pingit's case, it seems that people are genuinely using it."
By adding Buyit to Pingit, Barclays brings value to both commercial customers and consumers, Bareisis says.
In addition, Buyit purchases bypass the card network rails, Bareisis says. "The economics are likely to be more favorable to the merchants."
Foulds says merchants view the cost structure as "a key advantage" of Buyit. As such, Buyit will be a new sales tool for Barclays to use when seeking new retailer relationships, he adds.
The most recent upgrade to Pingit allows customers to add art or photos with their money transfers as a way to send messages or "gift wrap" the money transfer, Foulds says. The bank will let merchants do similar things in the future, as a way to interact with those who made purchases through Buyit, Foulds says.
The merchant using Buyit has to have a merchant account with Barclays, but the bank continues to provide Pingit to Barclays customers and non-customers, he adds.
"About 13% of our new registrations for Pingit comes from non-customers," Foulds says. The Pingit signup process for Barclays customers is simple, as they essentially establish a login code after downloading the app, Foulds says.
"There are a few more steps to validate that non-customers registering are actually who they say they are," he adds.