MasterCard Inc. introduced last week an app designed to let cardholders with Apple Inc. iPhones initiate person-to-person transfers between their MasterCard accounts, but only a single U.S. banking company currently supports the service.
The Purchase, N.Y., payments company last year introduced its MoneySend service, designed to let cardholders with accounts at participating banks send each other money.
The funds can be sent to and from credit and debit card accounts; sending money from a debit card lets people transfer funds directly into and out of their bank accounts, a capability that many observers have said is crucial to making P-to-P transfers catch on.
However, no U.S. bank has agreed to offer the service in this way. The Bancorp Bank lets people create a prepaid account specifically for MoneySend transfers. Users link an existing MasterCard credit or debit card to this dedicated account as a funding mechanism.
The MoneySend service is based on technology developed by Obopay Inc., a pioneer in P-to-P transfers. Obopay required users to establish a dedicated account for sending and receiving transfers, and experts have said that funding these accounts is an extra step that few want to bother with. Obopay said last month it was moving away from this model in favor of providing a service that banks can offer their customers.
The application announced on Thursday works on both Apple's iPhone and its iPad.
Sarah Ely, a MasterCard spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail that her company is "currently working with additional customers who plan to offer MoneySend to their debit and credit cardholders."
Bancorp Bank has been a MoneySend partner since the service was introduced last June. MasterCard said then it was talking to other issuers about offering the service.
Other companies are also introducing person-to-person transfer services. CashEdge Inc., for example, said last month that five banks are offering its Popmoney service and 165 would do so by midyear. Fidelity National Information Services Inc. has developed a transfer service built around PayPal Inc.'s payment system.
Unlike the CashEdge service, which sends money through the automated clearing house network and typically takes at least a day to settle, MoneySend transfers move across the MasterCard network nearly in real time.