Buddy, Can You E-Mail Me 100 Bucks?

The Next Big Thing in U.S. banking may be mobile person-to-person money transfers.

What if you could send money to that friend who loaned you $20 last week by using your mobile phone rather than having to go through the trouble of trekking to the ATM or mailing a check? All you'd need would be your buddy's e-mail address or cell number—and presto.

Folks in Japan and Europe can already do that. Soon Americans will, too. Studies show that U.S. consumers, particularly the younger set, have embraced the convenience of online shopping and e-banking and are now ready to move to the next frontier: person-to-person mobile payments. A recent poll by Mercatus, a financial consulting firm, showed that the proportion of people ages 26 to 34 who had used a cell phone to buy goods or pay for a product or service had doubled, to 14%, in the past year. "We are at the tipping point," says Mercatus managing partner Robert Hedges.

That's why a host of banks and financial companies are gearing up to add person-to-person payments to their existing mobile and online banking platforms.
[Read story at BusinessWeek.com/by Amy Feldman].