When Hamish Drury needed a few extra chips at a friend's poker night, he grabbed his mobile phone and paid by text message via a new person-to-person payment system.
The Auckland man was one of 5000 people who this week tested the service, called pago, before its official launch on Monday.
The ASB-developed system is one of several electronic payment methods being introduced before Christmas.
Registered users create a "digital wallet" and make payments through the pago website or via their text message-capable mobile phone.
"People will be borrowing off each other all night in poker nights, it gets really messy," said Mr Drury. "I just pago-ed straight across and grabbed some more chips. It didn't help me in the evening but it was handy."
General manager Marcus Robins expected the system would be popular among internet-savvy under-40s to pay gardeners, babysitters or money owed to friends. He said it was more efficient than some other electronic payment systems and users did not need to disclose bank account details.
Transactions cost 30c, plus text message charges, while registering is free until May next year, when a $1 fee will be introduced.
The service was expected to expand to include businesses within the next year so consumers could potentially pay for pizza by text message.
The launch has followed that of Westpac's Debitplus Visa card, which works like a credit card but uses a customer's funds rather than credit. Westpac product management head Brian Hayr said part of the card's appeal was that it could be used to shop online.
About two-thirds of retail transactions are carried out electronically.
What is pago?
* Registered users create a "digital wallet".
* They make payments through the pago website or via text messages.
* Users do not need to disclose bank account details.
* Transactions cost 30c, plus text message charges, while registering is free until May next year, when a $1 fee will be introduced.