Customers of Britain’s five biggest banks have downloaded more than 12.4million banking apps, and they used them to make 18.6million transactions a week last year.
The banks are under constant pressure to refine and improve their apps to meet and anticipate demand. Last year we asked users of the big banks’ apps to give us their reviews, which you can find here. But a lot has changed in just seven short months.
Here’s a look at what’s new in mobile banking.
Paym like it’s hot
From April 29, the Payments Council’s long-awaited new mobile payments service, Paym (pronounced ‘Pay-em’, since you asked), will allow users to send money to any UK mobile number.
You can already register for the service (which integrates into the existing Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Cumberland Building Society, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Santander and TSB apps), here.
To use Paym, you’ll first need to register your mobile number against the current account you want to make payments from and/or receive payments to. You’ll then be able to send or receive payments without the need for account numbers or sort codes.
Here’s how Paym transfers, which take just four steps, look in HSBC’s app:
It effectively means simple mobile payments for anyone with a current account and a mobile phone number.
Clydesdale Bank, First Direct, Isle of Man Bank, NatWest, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Yorkshire Bank have all committed to join Paym later in the year, while Nationwide Building Society plans an early-2015 entry.
How to use Paym
To receive money through Paym, register your mobile number with your participating bank, building society or payment provider and nominate which account to link it to.
Your friends can then pay directly into your account using just your mobile number – no sort codes or account numbers. You don’t need a smartphone to receive payments and you still receive the money if your phone is off or out of coverage.
You use your provider’s existing mobile banking or payments app to send money, meaning you get the same security protection and speed of payment you’re used to. Just use the app to select a mobile number from your contacts or type it in manually.
Every time you send a payment, Paym lets you verify the name of the recipient before confirming the payment, so you can check you’re sending money to the right person.
You can send payments to anyone else who has registered for Paym, even if their account is with a different participating bank, building society or payment provider.
You can send up to £250 a day through Paym, although some of the participating organisations offer a higher daily limit.
Visit paym.co.uk to find out how to register or go to your bank, building society or payment provider’s website for more information.
Safe and secure
Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Naturally, some users may be concerned about security when it comes to transferring money via mobile. But this aspect is something that has been heavily invested in so that customers can transfer money safely and securely with no need to worry.
“Banks are often accused of lacking innovation, so those banks that have already signed up for the launch should be commended. This is especially true for smaller players such as Cumberland Building Society. What we really hope to see after it goes live is the remaining banks joining up. This kind of flexibility is what customers have been calling for.”
What else is new?
Since we last looked at the app, Barclays now lets you transfer money to other payees, regardless of whether or not you've paid them before, without the need for Barclays' PINsentry card reader. And from the end of the month, it'll also feature Paym integration - but so will the initial seven other banking apps signed up to Paym, putting them all on a more level playing field.
Barclays, Lloyds Bank and TSB’s apps have all added support for Windows phones since we last reviewed them, and of course all three will join the Paym crowd from April 29. This leaves HSBC, First Direct and Santander as the only remaining apps not to support Microsoft’s operating system.
Updates to the NatWest and RBS apps introduced the new GetCash feature, which lets you withdraw cash from any NatWest, RBS or Tesco cash machine without needing your debit card. When you use the feature, a time-limited secure code is sent to your phone, which you then input at an ATM. A £250 daily limit applies.
Grow your money
If checking your balance and transactions isn’t quite enough for you, there’s an iOS app (coming soon to Android) which puts your spending under the microscope to help you get your finances under control.
OnTrees (which is part of MoneySuperMarket) connects directly to your bank account or accounts, secured with bank-level security, and analyses data about your income and outgoings, splitting your payments into categories so you can see where your money goes.
Information is displayed in simple graphs and charts, and you can set monthly budgets based on the different categories of spending. You can even receive text and email alerts to let you know when you’re nearing the limits of those budgets. You can find out more about OnTrees here.
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