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The Mobile Generation and Banks that Stand Still

I went to a banking technology seminar just over a year ago where the main focus of the presentations was how to create a single universal payment message type and the issues around customer ID&V.

The subject inevitably turned to the UK Payments Council new Scheme - since Account Switching is going live end of this month and they needed something new to sink their teeth into - P2P Mobile Payments being made available to the whole of the UK. The big 5 were the 1st to sign up, with some of the key new players in Retail Banking hot on their tail, as well as some of the main online payments engines.

I was just picking up the programme for one of the latter mentions, but the first question I asked  myself, and was in turn asked by friends, colleagues, relatives and the wider public when I mentioned the Scheme to them, was "would I use that instead of my online banking?". The premise is you attach you bank account details to your mobile phone number, and with a use of an app provided by your bank you will be able to send an "instant"* payment to anyone whose phone number you have, even allowing easy access through your contacts list. 

Here's where my light-bulb moment came in - biometric fingerprinting on phones! The key is quick and easy access otherwise why not use the current online banking functionality and send a faster payment as you currently do? You want a one swipe, one button access to this service, otherwise there's nothing to differentiate it to all other payment types right?

Lo and behold, 1 year later, Apple introduces their iPhone 5S model this month with, yes you guessed it, incorporated fingerprint technology, allowing for both instant and secure access. Where Apple goes all smartphone manufacturers soon follow.

I'd be very interested to see which banks had their finger (pun intended) on the pulse by already building this technology into their apps and how many of the app providers will be in the future. Because this isn't just for mobile payments and mobile banking, it's for mobile-everything. And those who don't seriously start considering where they stand on this will be seen as anachronistic at best, or even obsolete at worst.

Even my octogenarian grandmother asked me to get her a smartphone for Christmas - last year.

The question that remains is to lead or to follow, and risk falling behind. 

*Instant is in inverted commas because it very much depends on whether your bank is already a direct submitter for Faster Payments, or is intending to sign up to the new (and costly) LINK interface which would also allow for payments to be instant. If not they would be just as "fast" as your payments currently are, which is usually up to 2 hours.




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