Millions hit by 'revolutionary' Paym service wait

Updated: 

Nationwide Building Society reports drop in profits

It launches today and if you're with the right bank, it will revolutionise the way you pay for things, from daily newspapers to train tickets. Paym means you can pay for goods and services using your mobile 'phone. HSBC, RBS and Santander, amongst other big names, have signed up to the service.

But it's not such good news if you're a Nationwide customer.

Cash obit?

Currently nine banks - check the full list - offer the service to their customers from today. However several players, including Nationwide, NatWest and Yorkshire bank, don't have the technology up and running yet. Indeed, Nationwide is the biggest slug here - it won't be signing up operationally for the service till 2015.

It told AOL Money that innovation remained a priority. "Paym is an industry initiative that we have supported from the start and we will be rolling it out to our customers at a time that complements all the other technology activity we have planned."

Quick, personal, cheap

What are Paym's advantages? You don't have to use bank account numbers and sort codes when sending or transferring cash. You simply download your banking app and select the number of the person or organisation you want to pay.

Telecoms analyst Ernest Doku at uSwitch.com expresses concern about service take-up - initially, at least. "What's interesting about Paym is its simplicity – once you and your recipient have registered, it's the first system of its kind for which having someone's mobile number is sufficient to send them money."

He goes on: "This is really promising, but there are some hurdles to overcome. Fears about smartphones containing personal data being stolen and a limited number of partners have so far put the brakes on the take-up of this tech."

Trust issues

So it remains to be seen if Paym can build enough trust in consumers – as well as deliver a simple and secure payment method – to promote mass uptake. But cashless transactions are increasingly becoming common, as far afield as Afghanistan and Africa.

In that sense, the UK is actually coming to person-to-person mobile payments late in the day. As writer David Wolman suggested in 2012 in a Huffpo article, the Paym trajectory could start off slow. "It's a bit like the history of the credit card: gradual adoption at first, followed later by a big boom."

Bear in mind though that new technology can bring growing pains. Last year RBS and NatWest customers were locked out of their mobile apps in a cyber attack. This came behind a hardware fault preventing many RBS customers using online services and cash machines.