Paym is a big step towards social, digital, and financial inclusion for the masses

The continued adoption and growth of mobile payments by the UK public took a positive hit this week with the launch of Paym, the Payments Council’s incentive to enable anyone with a mobile phone number to pay another, writes Ross Macmillan

The continued adoption and growth of mobile payments by the UK public took a positive hit this week with the launch of Paym, the Payments Council’s incentive to enable anyone with a mobile phone number to pay another, writes Ross MacMillan.

With 90% of UK current accounts signed up to the scheme, Paym respresents a critical step towards bringing mobile money to the masses – giving people greater choice, convenience and control over their payments.

Mobile payments have seen rapid growth in the last three years, marrying convenience, speed, and ease of use for the customer. While much of the recent attention has been on consumer to consumer payments, consumer to business payments via mobile devices shows that if you can get the product right – and it’s intuitive and trusted by the customer – it will be used.

It has also proven to be an important tool in bridging the digital divide – giving citizens without internet access the convenience of paying online – and supporting budgeting for low-income households uncomfortable with using automated payments like direct debits.

While the citizen benefits from convenience and control, the bill issuer benefits from receiving payments quicker; a win-win situation.

If we use our first-hand experience within the public sector market as a benchmark, which typically has low digital adoption and are much less likely to use cards to pay for things, then this positive impact will certainly be replicated in the mass market.

Ipsos Mori reported in April 2014 that internet penetration and smartphone ownership among housing association residents is below the UK national average of 80% and 50% respectively.

However, there has been a 10% increase in internet access among this group, and a four-fold increase in smartphone ownership since 2010.

When we also consider that welfare reforms are ‘digital by default’, mobile applications and payments have an important role to play in bridging the digital divide and go some way in ensuring that no level of society gets left behind.

Judging from our own experience, nearly 60% of the top 100 housing associations in the UK are using the allpay mobile application so that tenants can pay their rent instantly.

From February 2012 to March 2014, 388,506 transactions were processed through the application, collecting £53.8m. And this figure is increasing rapidly.

The Paym scheme promises to propel mobile payments to the masses and will help drive mobile payment technology forward to aid both consumers and businesses.