January 18, 2013

This week in digital: Text payments, free Facebook calls and Google’s moving house

Written By Martin Sandhu
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Pay via text available in 2014
By spring next year UK mobile users will be able to send and receive money with only the need for a mobile phone number.

The UK Payments Council says the infrastructure will be in place in early 2014. Banks will then ask account holders if they want to opt-in to the database, which will allow them to use the service. Although mobile banking is already available to many this will be the first system which doesn’t require any previous set-up.

The move could been seen as a useful step for independent retailers, in particular those who run stalls rather than a shop premise, but the Payments Council is looking into the possibility of capping the service, in order to avoid misuse.

The development will see the UK catch up with a number of other countries who already use similar technology.

Facebook adds free call feature in US
Facebook this week launched free calls for US users of it’s Messenger app. Currently the service is only available to those using iPhones but Facebook said it is working on adding the feature to the Blackberry and Android apps.

Calls can only be made to other users who have installed the Messenger app, which is separate from the main Facebook app. Currently calls cannot be made to landlines or a Facebook friend who is logged in via the website.

The move places Facebook in direct competition with Skype and may well cause a blow to operating networks as users choose to use the service as a free alternative to standard calls.

Google announces UK HQ move
Search giant Google have announced the purchase of a large site at King’s Cross in North London. The company plans to build a seven and 11 storey complex, which they will move their UK headquarters to.

The £1bn deal is the first UK property purchase for Google, who have traditionally leased buildings.

O2 to sell phones without wall chargers
After a successful trail with their flagship HTC’s One X+, O2 have announced plans to stop selling wall chargers with all their mobile phones. During the trial 82% of people who purchased the phone chose not to buy an additional charger kit.

O2 believes that continuing its ‘chargerless’ scheme could avoid more than 24million chargers being sold each year, which they call “a huge environmental saving”.