UK bank NatWest is shutting down its online person-to-person payments system, FastPay, in July.
In a statement on the FastPay Web site, NatWest says it is no longer accepting new customers and all existing accounts will close on July 15th. Existing customers can continue to use the service until it shuts down.
NatWest teamed with UK-based e-payments systems vendor Magex to launch the funds transfer service in August 2002. The system allowed anyone with an e-mail address or a mobile phone number to send and receive payments.
FastPay is the latest in a number of online P2P systems to fold. Citibank pulled the plug on its C2IT P2P payments business in November 2003 due to low user numbers, while in October last year Yahoo! shut down PayDirect, the online person-to-person funds transfer service it operated in conjunction with HSBC, due to poor customer uptake.
The bank-backed schemes have faired badly in the P2P market, which is dominated by EBay's PayPal system. Research released by Gartner in 2002 showed that PayPal was by far the most trusted and used of all Internet P2P payment systems in the US. The study also said that PayPal would be the company "most likely" to establish an e-cash standard for low value Internet payments.
PayPal is now looking for ways to expand beyond online auctions and has recently signed up a number of online retailers to its electronic wallet service, including US-based Overstock.com and Apple's iTunes online music store.