Mobile payments to send money like a text within 18 months

With just a phone number, customers of banks including Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds could send money from their phone by 2014.

Texting money from your mobile to friends and businesses is just over a year away. With just a phone number, customers of banks including Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds could send money from their phones by spring of 2014.

The Payments Council -- the body in charge of greasing the wheels of payments -- says by next year 90 per cent of British current account holders will have the option to exchange money with others by sharing only a phone number.

All you'll have to do is opt in to a database and you'll be able to send money to a phone number, or receive money by telling someone your number. You don't need to share your sort code or account number, and you don't need to set up a separate account with an app or mobile wallet such as Barclays Pingit or O2 Wallet .

Payments will be protected by a passcode, with extra security an option for each bank and building society.

Mobile payments are common in Africa, where systems such as M-Pesa are trusted to beam moneys about, whether between normal people or businesses. 

The Payments Council will set a limit on transactions -- like the £20 ceiling on contactless payments -- but that limit hasn't been decided. A lower limit would prevent abuse while still allowing you to, say, split a bill or pay back a cheeky loan of a few quid. But a higher limit would make it possible to swap bigger loans or make payments, like when your other half bailed you out after the Christmas party.

Supported by eight banks and major financial institutions, the service is run by online and phone banking service Faster Payments and the Link network, which processes cash withdrawals. Santander, Cumberland Building Society, Danske, Royal Bank of Scotland and Metro Bank are also in.

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