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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Cumberland Building Society helping revolutionise mobile phone banking

The Cumberland Building Society is at the forefront of an initiative to revolutionise mobile-phone banking.

Peter Temple photo
Peter Temple

It is one of eight financial institutions to back a new system that will make payments using a mobile phone as straightforward as sending a text message.

Customers will be able to move money without knowing the account number or sort code of whoever they are paying. All they will need is the recipient’s mobile number.

Details of the scheme have just been announced by the Payments Council.

Its chief executive, Adrian Kamellard, said: “This will offer a simple, secure way to split a bill for dinner, receive money from a friend or pay a tradesman without needing to remember or share account details.”

Shortly before the initiative is launched in spring 2014, participating institutions will invite customers to register.

Users will provide their mobile number and confirm which account they want to link it to. A passcode or similar security feature will be needed to authorise payments.

The Cumberland’s involvement has raised eyebrows, not least because it is the only building society to offer the service.

The other institutions are all banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander UK, Danske and Metro Bank.

Most building societies do not offer current accounts, never mind internet or mobile-phone banking.

But despite its size, the Cumberland is a leader in this technology. It launched a current account in 1998, introduced internet banking in November 2007 and then mobile-phone banking in November 2011.

Peter Temple, operations and human resources director, said: “When we introduced mobile banking in 2011, we were ahead of HSBC, NatWest, Santander. We were ahead of a lot of the big players.”

The Cumberland has forged ahead because, as a mutual organisation run for the benefit of its members, it focuses on providing services rather than maximising profit. Banks make little profit directly from current accounts, so tend not to make them a priority.

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