The Payments Council announcement that they will launch their industry-wide mobile payments service is the springboard for mass adoption of mobile payments in the UK. I have to admit a professional interest here – at VocaLink we delivered the database at the
heart of the service in December last year, and we operate the underlying payments systems that will be used.
This year the Payments Council will be working to set the rules defining minimum service standards (for service, speed and so on), performing comprehensive end-to-end testing, preparing and implementing the pre-launch registration campaign and speaking with
other interested financial institutions to ensure the service is made available to the highest possible number of customers.
The industry is confident that the future of money lies in mobile; nearly 50 per cent of all mobile phone sales in the UK are now for smartphones (according to Kantar Worldwide poll figures last February), providing the foundation for rapid mobile payments
uptake. If banks take the lead by building their own consumer-facing apps, or extending their existing ones, they will be well placed to become the leading players in this rapidly growing market.
The Payments Council initiative could be the catalyst for mass adoption of mobile payments because it has the potential to deliver a secure, near-ubiquitous service. It will use the existing Faster Payments Service and LINK ATM network to deliver mobile
payments to almost any bank account in the UK; last year these two services processed almost four billion transactions in total – they are well established and well proven systems.
The opportunity to differentiate for the banks will then come in the design of their individual apps, their commitment to customer support, and how hard (or how well) they market their services.
The UK payments market is evolving rapidly and it is now well positioned to deliver truly comprehensive, ubiquitous mobile payments for the first time.