Back in February, UK bank Barclays launched Pingit, a potentially game-changing app that lets users send and receive money using just their mobile phone number. And today the British bank has revealed that it has just hit 500,000 downloads of the app, less than three months after launch.
— BarclaysOnline (@BarclaysOnline) May 9, 2012
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We reported earlier this year that Pingit had sailed past 20,000 downloads in just a couple of days, which was pretty impressive given that it was open only to Barclays’ customers at the time. But when it opened its service to customer of other banks last month, it seems this may have helped boost the uptake.
We’ve previously written about the future of online banking, where we argued that Barclays blindsided the UK banking industry somewhat with the launch of Pingit. And crucially, the fact that it has opened up the service to customers of all banks could be key to its success.
By getting in there first, Pingit might become the industry standard before any of its competitors have even spluttered into their morning coffee. It’s understood that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), owner of NatWest, is looking at similar ideas, as is Lloyds Banking Group.
Antony Jenkins, chief executive of retail banking at Barclays, has previously said that Pingit would revolutionize banking, or at least live up to the scale achieved by telephone and Internet banking before it.
An indication that Barclays’ move was a masterstroke came in a frank admission by an HSBC spokesperson, who said that whilst it had no current plans to launch a rival service, it was “certainly a step forward for the banking industry.” That’s about as high-praise as you’ll ever get from one bank to another.