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Barclays pushes for social commerce with Twitter payments feature

Barclays bank is teaming up with Twitter to unroll a payments feature via its Pingit mobile application for consumers in Britain, proving that social networks continue to take on more commerce options in the mobile space.

The Barclays Pingit app enables users to transmit payments to anyone with a mobile phone number in Britain, customize payments with messages or photos, send gift cards and make donations, among other features. Consumers will now be able to send money using their Twitter handles, and can link their usernames to Pingit beginning on Mar. 10.

“The use of social networks as commerce hubs is a very hot area, as social media tries to monetize itself beyond advertising,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston, MA. “Mobile commerce and the Peer To Peer transactions are tangible and can serve as a quantifiable, measured bridge between marketing and ecommerce.

“Inserting ‘buy now’ calls to action into posts will allow Facebook, Twitter, and their kind to finally dip a toe into the rich waters of quantified ROI for social media marketing buys,” he said.

“As mobile fast-becomes the preferred way to access financial information, smart banks and financial institutions are offering up new ways to transact, via trusted social networks like Twitter. Since they usually deliver these tools via apps, they can on-board this functionality and gauge the response.”

Tap-and-go payments
As networks such as Facebook and Twitter roll out “buy now” buttons, social media applications are venturing even further into the fold of mcommerce.

Consumers that do not belong to Barclays bank may still download the Pingit app, which is available for iOS and Android platforms. Pingit claims over 1 billion euros have been distributed through the service.

Users can sign up by updating their Pingit profile with their Twitter handle under the “app settings” tab. To transfer funds, both the recipient and payee must be registered on Twitter.

The service is currently only available in the United Kingdom, although Pingit allows users to make payments to international locations, including India and select African countries.

Era of social commerce
A Storkie Express executive at eTail West 2015 predicted that this year will kick off the era of social commerce, a term which refers to the amalgamation of social media and checkout processes (see story).

If Pinterest also forays into offering purchasing capabilities, it could have a significant effect on the social commerce sector.

“Social networks have a promising future in the evolution of online commerce,” said Erik Burckart, chief technology officer at PointSource, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. “Consumers are known to be increasingly influenced by their peers.

“As a result, product recommendations from peers can be leveraged to drive revenue and referrals to commerce sites. This will also evolve and elevate the social networks’ advertising capabilities for retailers from whom ad spends will increase,” he said. “However, social networks such as Facebook have traditionally suffered from privacy concerns, with people not trusting their shared information.

“This could be a roadblock if they do not allow established and trusted e-payment services.”

For banks and financial marketers, 2015’s focus should be on streamlining mobile payment options.

“All banks and financial services should be investing in mobile payments this year,” Mr. Burckart said. “Mobile phones are increasingly becoming the instrument that is replacing plastic (debit/credit cards) and paper.

“As more people adopt this form of payments, banks and financial services should provide that capability to their customers via their mobile presence,” he said. “We have seen the importance of mobile payments in less developed countries and now banking in the US is behind.

“The banks that invest will benefit and those that do not will fall behind quickly.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York