Barclays has launched a money transfer app that allows customers to send and receive cash using just a mobile phone number.

‘Pingit’ is available for Barclays customers today, with a wider roll out to all current account holders at any bank in the UK scheduled for March.

The service removes the need for account details to be exchanged, or card readers used, by linking a customer’s account to their mobile device.

To send funds, users need just need to download the free Barclays Pingit app – available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry.

Each transaction is protected by a five-digit passcode, which is set by the user, and payments can be between £1 and £300 with a maximum of £5,000 per day.

While this version of the app currently only allows Barclays customers to send funds, customers of any bank can receive payments by signing up on the Barclays website and registering their mobile device.

Pingit is just one of a number of mobile payment services that has been launched recently, but it is the first to be made available by a major UK bank.

PayPal handled $4bn worth of mobile payments in 2011 and has been busy trialling several new services in recent months.

In November it launched a peer-to-peer payment system on Facebook and last month it introduced a new mobile payment system at 51 Home Depot stores in the US that allows customers to pay at the till by entering their mobile phone number and PIN.

Meanwhile Visa has been behind a Europe-wide push to get consumers to adopt NFC payments using mobile phones. 

Pingit is slightly different to these examples as its central function appears to be bank transfers between friends, however small businesses can also register their numbers to receive payments without the need for a credit card machine.

In this way it is similar to US mobile payment tool Square, which allows businesses to take card payments through a smartphone app.