Banks Working On Linking Up Their Payment Systems To Make Person-To-Person Mobile Transfers Easier

The way younger generations are glued to their smartphones, there’s almost nothing they can’t do with the swipe of a touch screen. Old-fashioned things like writing checks or even paying a roommate with cash is such a bother to some, but yet transferring money to other people with apps hasn’t really caught on like the banking industry figured it would. That’s why the nation’s big four are discussing how they can link up their payment systems to make it easier for consumers to send money via mobile devices or even emails.

Why would banks want to make it easier for us to pay each other? Perhaps because eventually, after we’re all hooked on mobile transfers, they could charge a small fee per transaction, notes Reuters.

The first step involves getting all the banks on the same playing field. Right now, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are already cool with operating on a system called clearXchange. The remaining Big Four bank Citigroup has teamed up with 1,400 smaller banks on the Popmoney system.

If those two systems were to get together and create a vast network of customers, the idea is it would be easier for those customers to pay each other with the click of a button or a tap of the tablet screen.

While the talks are still basically under wraps, a JPMorgan executive who is also a board member of clearXchange said it makes sense to link the two systems up. That could happen within 18 months.

“We want to make moving money to people with other banks really seamless,” he said.

Even as we use our phones and mobile devices for just about anything including ordering groceries or broadcasting to the world what we’re debating having for lunch, consumers haven’t really latched on to electronic payments between themselves, say industry experts. Only 6% of around $900 billion total person-to-person payments will be made with computers and smart phones this year, said one research group. Everything else is paper money or checks.

The next steps will involve the banks figuring out how to make sure the links between the payment systems are totally fool-proof, as well as ensuring that the payment process would be a lot quicker than the current technology allows.

If it’s easy, safe and fast and doesn’t involve going to an ATM or running up a tab with that friend who always ends up paying for stuff just because it’s easy and says hey you can pay me later, consumers might be convinced to ditch cash and checks. But then again, there are no fees involved in handing your pal a wad of green. Chew on that, banks.

U.S. banks in talks to ease transfer of money with phone, email [Reuters]