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One to Watch Winner: The Automobile Association

Published: Jul 2013

Lewis Jones, The Automobile Association and Maurice Cleaves, Barclays

Photo of Richard Parkinson, Lewis Jones, The Automobile Association and Maurice Cleaves, Barclays.


The AA interacts with 15 million people across the UK. This solution, which is moving The AA towards a paperless environment by removing cash and cheques as much as possible, enables their customers to send money using just a mobile phone number.

Lewis Jones

Operational Banking, UK

The Automobile Association

The Automobile Association (AA) is the UK’s leading breakdown service with more dedicated patrols than any other UK roadside assistance provider. The professionalism and high standards valued by its 15 million members in the event of a roadside breakdown are also the hallmark of many more AA products and services.

in partnership with

Writing cheques is becoming more expensive and less convenient. Furthermore, cash is inconvenient for the Automobile Association’s (AA) engineers and fitters, and also provides no certainty to the customer that the money has actually been delivered to the AA. As Lewis Jones, Manager, Operational Banking, recalls, “we began to look for a way to have an instant transaction that doesn’t compromise trust in anyway.”

In February 2012, Barclays launched Pingit, a new service that allows personal customers to send money to a third party using just a mobile phone number. “We decided to adopt it,” says Jones.

The great thing about Barclays Pingit is that the AA doesn’t need any personal details from the customer. The customer, therefore, has all the anonymity of cash but all the security of knowing that the transaction will be recorded on their bank statement and will tell them which organisation they’ve paid. The solution also delivers a nice, easy service for the AA’s customers because, realistically, the payment is the least glamorous part of any consumer transaction. Therefore, the company wanted to make it as quick and as painless as possible. Using the Quick Response (QR) code is phenomenally simple and embodies everything that the AA wanted to achieve: making the payment piece virtually invisible to the consumer, but giving it all the information it needed and enabling it to collect instantly.

The service is aimed at increasingly mobile-orientated people, who use their phone to manage many aspects of their lives, as a viable alternative to using cash and cheques as a payment method. Amid the rapidly changing payments landscape, businesses are seeking new ways to meet their customers’ payment needs. To meet this demand, Barclays developed an enhancement to its Pingit app, by developing the Barclays Pingit for Corporates service. This new functionality provides the corporate’s own customers with a new and convenient way to pay their bills, as an alternative to paying by cash, cheque or bank transfer, simply by using their mobile phone.

By using the Barclays Pingit app on their phone, individuals can make a payment simply by scanning a QR code or entering a corporate identifier. The app is available on Apple iOS, Android and RIM operating systems. The AA is a large-scale consumer-facing organisation that interacts with 15 million people across the UK and, due to the diversity of services it provides, there is a payment to come from it to the bank somewhere along the line. The majority of these transactions are carried out by direct debit or credit card, but the bank recognised that there was a significant group of the community (approximately 10%) that is not always ready to use those traditional methods of payment. Barclays Pingit for corporates provides the AA with a simple and effective way for consumers to quickly and easily make payments.

“Simplicity was key to our members’ experience,” says Jones. “By automating and streamlining payments and collection as much as possible to free up resources, Barclays were very keen to help us ‘do the right thing’ and move towards a paperless environment by removing cash and cheques as much as possible.”

He concludes: “This is very important to us if we want our members to use it. It was important that our members could have a mobile payment solution they could trust and, with over 1.5 million downloads and an app store rating of 4.5, the Barclays Pingit solution gives us this confidence.”

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