Can I Pingit? Erm…no I can’t: Part Two

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Daniel Lowther - I'm an Associate Director and head up the FinTech PR division at CCgroup. I don't do chocolate or musicals. In search of the most sour confectionery in the world.
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For those who read this blog avidly (I know there are many) you may remember a post called Using Fintech PR to go beyond tech. In the blog I talked about my painful experience with Barclays Pingit.

I thought I’d share the latest on what can only be described as a saga.

To quickly recap I sent my friend some money. He changed mobile phones and couldn’t pair his new phone with his Pingit account. As a result neither he nor I could access the funds.

For three months now I’ve been unable to access a large amount of money that is just sitting in limbo. And this is not for the want of trying.

I called Barclays three times before it became apparent that me as the sender could not resolve the issue. My friend, the recipient, had to take the lead.

He spent nearly two months calling and waiting for reference codes from Barclays before he is told he needs to go into a branch to resolve the problem. There is something rather ironic about having to go into a physical branch to resolve a mobile App problem…

I received this email yesterday from him following his visit:

Just spent 55 mins sat with a personal banker, took them that long to sort the app out and once done, my balance shows as zero. So they think the money was either returned to you, but if not you need to call 0333 200 1012 with reference xxx acct no. xxx) to get a trace done on that payment.

I now officially wash my hands of it! Please don’t send me money through that thing again…!

Guess what? The money hasn’t been returned to me. I call Barclays with the reference number and all the relevant details and they can’t resolve the problem. I’m due for a call back – again. A few more days and I’ll hit the four month mark without access to these funds.

What’s this all got to do with fintech and communications? Not a lot – I just wanted to rant. Only joking! I don’t think my experience is isolated. A quick search of “Pingit” on Twitter reveals that I’m certainly not alone in having technical and service difficulties.

It’s new technology – I understand that and you’re going to get teething problems. But Pingit is nearly two years old now. These sorts of issues should have been resolved. With only £10m sent using the service so far the service is still comparatively small and problems aren’t hitting the headlines yet (especially when you have RBS’s creaking IT infrastructure to give you cover fire). But this will change. As mobile inevitably takes centre stage in the world of financial service transactions banks cannot afford for this to continue.

Furthermore, Pingit was recently upgraded so purchases can be made by scanning QR codes. Any problem like mine in a retail environment with a queue of people behind me is going to make the issue much more explosive.

Earlier this week Lloyds’ CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio said that “Banks must return to their core values and focus on customers.” This is about investing in technology to offer more utility to consumers of course. But it is also investing in communications and the support services that help consumers deal with service problems. How can these issues be resolved without playing phone tag with call centres and writing down numerous reference numbers? What can be done to explain potential pitfalls to consumers?

It’s about providing a service not a product. And this will require investment in other technologies like CRM systems and data analytics so that banks can better serve. Technology vendors who can challenge and educate banks on these issues will win out in the long run. I think there’s a PR campaign in here somewhere…