Friction and frustration … Barclays Pingit and their problem with identity verification

Written by on May 16, 2014 in BillingViews, Guest Blog with 3 Comments

Last year I wrote about my experiences with Barclays Pingit and how the digital proposition falls apart when your handset changes. Well it’s happened again – but even worse …

I’ve been a long time fan of Pingit because it’s a well designed app that provides useful person-to-person payments functionality, even for non Barclays customers. Plus it now supports Paym mobile phone number based payments which is great for customers whose main bank doesn’t yet offer Paym.

However when things go wrong you realise that although it’s a great app, it’s been bolted onto ageing, dysfunctional banking processes and systems. A few days ago my iPhone was replaced by Apple and I duly restored my encrypted backup which preserved all my passwords. My NatWest app continued to work fine, my Capital One app continued to work fine. However Pingit needed to be set up again as the device had changed. Sounds like good security, locking the app to my device, however the only way to now cancel and re-setup the app was to call Barclays – annoying and low tech but if that’s what it takes … This I duly did and my registration was cancelled. I re-registered via the app, completed the micro deposit verification and was then presented with a screen telling me my address couldn’t be verified so I needed to visit a Barclays branch with photo ID and proof of address.

PingitMy address was fine the day before; had I been wiped from every electronic database by an electromagnetic pulse? Or maybe the Barclays creaking systems infrastructure couldn’t handle some simple electronic verification checks? I called the Pingit customer service line again but the agent was unable to tell my why I had to have my address verified by a branch. Proof of address could be paper utility bill or bank statement less than three months old and not printed from the Internet! Who still has these? Fortunately I managed to find a council tax bill that was just under three months old – not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t got this one.

I duly visited a Barclays branch where a very helpful lady photocopied my documents, updated the account system and then spent 20 minutes on the phone to a Barclays call centre somewhere getting my Pingit account re-enabled. Yes, 20 minutes to switch me back on!

Pingit should be a hook to persuade customers to move their banking to Barclays but this experience means I could never contemplate using them as my primary bank. The idea that to sign up for a digital app you have to visit a branch is bizarre. There are smart ways to verify identity and address against electronic datasets and I’d be happy to share them with Barclays but for now customers are stuck with friction and frustration; and Barclays is stuck with processes that cost them a fortune.

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter at @sevendotzero


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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathan has been working in payments for 18 years covering digital money, identity verification, telco billing, finance systems and consumer payment services; in both startup and corporate environments. Most recently, his experience is in developing alternative consumer payment models. "I'm passionate about removing the friction and frustration from payments. The convergence of payments and mobile technology and its impact on consumers fascinates me." You can follow Jonathan on Twitter at @sevendotzero .


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  1. Exactly! And no it’s not a requirement to send out paper statements. Mine are online only.

  2. Karen Seward says:

    Ive just replaced my phone and I am having the very same problem, today will be my fourth visit to my local branch! On my first visit the staff rang the ‘pingit team’ from my phone, the phone I hold to which the account is linked, this wasn’t proof enough that I am me, on subsequent visits the ID I’ve taken hasn’t fit their tick list, even a very recent letter from Pingit themselves (whilst they’ve been unsure that I am me!) wasn’t enough proof of address, or a letter from the NHS… not on the tick list you see! I’ve finally found my motor insurance policy which it seems will do the trick, I shall be staging a sit in if they don’t ‘unfreeze’ my account
    today! And once unfroze I shall be withdrawing my funds and closing the account! Ridiculous!

  3. William O'Brien says:

    Exactly the same problem still exists, with an extra twist. If you try to set up a second device, eg an iPad, it will stop the app on the first device working and force yet another visit to a branch. Ludicrous.

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