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By the end of the year, the UK Payments Council says, we should see an industry-wide system that allows customers with any smartphone and an internet connection (on any network, with any bank or building society) to make mobile payments.

When the changes come in, transferring money between accounts should be as simple as sending an SMS. Your personal bank account number will be linked to your mobile number when you sign up, so you won't need to share your account details with anyone.

Vocalink is building a database that will allow customers to send practically instantaneous payments to their friends, relatives or whoever they please via their internet browser or an app.

The Payments Council is 'the organisation that sets the strategy for UK payments'. Its Head of Innovation, Richard Martin, described the mobile banking market as "rapidly developing" with "limitless" potential and we are likely to see other innovations in this area soon enough too.

Smartphones come in many different makes and models, but Mr Martin explains that you'll be able to access the service with any smartphone: "We have deliberately designed the mobile payments system to be as flexible as possible; it is not tied to a particular operator or handset. We have found over the last few years banks have launched mobile banking applications which you can run on iPhones or my grandmother's four-year-old Nokia."

He hinted that a system allowing customers to make mobile payments linked to their email addresses or usernames could be in the pipeline too.

A spokesperson for thinkmoney commented: "Mobile payments could replace cheques for many people. If you imagine any scenario where you might use a cheque - whether it's paying a friend or a roofer - a mobile payment could be far simpler."

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