Mobile payment apps make it easy to pay (and collect) money between friends

Never owe your friends or family money again. Use a mobile app to pay your friends instantly.

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An empty wallet is no longer an excuse for not picking up your share of the restaurant tab. Peer-to-peer payment features (P2P) are built into many banking apps as well as Facebook, PayPal, iMessage and other tools that may already be lurking on your phone. And a growing number of other P2P apps are as near as your browser. Like many tech innovations, P2P apps were at first a nerdy oddity. But they’re rapidly moving into the mainstream. Transaction volume in the UK reached £77.4 million in 2016 and rapid growth is expected to continue.

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What are P2P payment apps for?

P2P phone apps allow you can send money to somebody across the country, in another country or across the table from you at a restaurant.

Most of these apps are free, quick and easier than finding the right combination of bills or that elusive chequebook. They also keep a record showing what you paid — your half of the rent, petrol, a bar tab or another shared expense.

The majority of these apps are designed for peer-to-peer exchanges among friends and are not always safe for retail purchases.

How do I start using a payment app?

To get started with a P2P app, simply install the app on your phone and link it to your bank account or debit card. (Some apps allow for credit cards, but you could find yourself paying cash advance fees.)

Popular P2P payment apps

Facebook Messenger

Facebook also offers friend-to-friend payments. Through the Facebook Messenger app, you can tuck your funds into a message. Both you and your recipient will need to register your debit cards to send and receive money.

Google Pay

By signing up with Google Pay, you can forget carrying cash and credit cards altogether. You’ll not only be able to make purchases in shops and online, but also send pounds to your loved ones. To send money, both you and your recipient will need to be registered with Google Pay.

Paym

Paym (pronounced “Pay-em”) is the UK’s mobile payments service, offered by seventeen banks and building societies. You can use it to pay friends, family and small businesses using just their mobile number – no sort code or account number needed.

Snapcash

Snapchat partnered with Square to develop Snapcash, a fast, fun way to send money to your friends. With Snapcash, you type an amount you want to send into into a Snapchat message and then tap a green Snapcash button.

If your friend’s Snapchat account is linked to a debit card, it’s money in the bank. If not, they have 24 hours to claim the the money before it bounces back to your account.

Your major UK bank

Most major UK banks have built payment features into their own banking apps, allowing you to send money to people with UK accounts. The only problem with this is you often need the bank details of the person you’re paying – making it less seamless than other options.

Circle

Founded in 2013, Circle isn’t as widely known, but you can use it to send money to anyone in the world with an email address or mobile phone number. You link your Circle account to a debit card or bank account and send the money from a mobile app or a browser. There’s also a Circle for the iMessage app that lets you enclose money with your message.

Venmo

Venmo isn’t just for paying up. Because it’s also a social media platform, you can use it for checking up — on who your friends are paying, what they’re paying for, and what they have to say about it. (Though you can set your payments to private if you don’t want the world to know.) The only caveat: You and your recipient both need Venmo accounts to begin exchanging money.

Pingit

Pingit links your mobile number to your bank account so you can pay using your smartphone. You don’t need to know your friend’s sort code or account number, just their mobile number. You can also use the Paym system above using the Pingit app.

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Which app should I use?

To determine which app is best for your situation, first consider the app your friends and family use most often. You don’t necessarily need to all be using the same app — just one that’s compatible.

Look into the apps you may already have through your bank, social media or shopping. Compare how quickly and easily it is to transfer money among loved ones or businesses you deal with most often. And consider the security provisions, unique features, ease of use and other aspects that may appeal to you.

Peer-to-peer payment features are quickly finding its way on more phones and apps. For payments among friends, it might be an answer for you too.

Sending money overseas is easier with mobile apps

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