IOU-K: New Data from Barclays, Makers of the Pingit App, Shows Britons Rack Up £2.3BN in Unpaid Mate Debt

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One third of those surveyed were too embarrassed to ask mates for money back. Users of Barclays Pingit app can now pay mates back using just a mobile phone.

According to new research released today by Barclays Pingit, the mobile phone app that allows people to send and receive money with just a mobile phone number, Brits are racking up unpaid ‘mate debt’ to the tune of £2.3 billion.

The research reveals that, when it comes to mates, the British are generous, with nearly three quarters (71%) of people having lent money to a friend – with the average Brit willing to loan mates £59. This generosity doesn’t extend to paying back borrowed money, with 11% of respondents admitting they’ve pretended to ‘forget’ to pay a mate back.

Cheers Mate, I Owe You One
Over a quarter of Britons who have lent money to friends (26%) have run up their mate debts during a night out or a cab ride (25%). However, it also seems the tough economic times have them calling on friends for a favour, with a quarter (23%) of Britons surveyed loaning money not for a cheeky pint in the pub, but to help their friends pay their household bills.

The most popular reasons listed for lending money to mates    %
To buy coffee 26%
To pay for nights out 26%
To pay for a taxi 25%
To pay for a meal out    24%
To pay their household bills    23%
To pay for petrol    11%
To pay for a holiday 8%
To buy Christmas presents    5%

Settling Up
A third of Britons (33%) are simply too embarrassed to ask their mates to pay back money that they’ve loaned – with women most likely to blush at the thought of asking for their money back (39% versus 28% men). Reluctance to talk about money with mates can even end in tears, with 15% of those who’ve lent money to friends claiming they’ve fallen out with friends over unpaid debts. Now, Britons can send their friends and family gentle reminders about debts using the Pingit app.

Zawe Ashton commented: “To be honest, the findings from Barclays research come as no surprise to me. There have been many occasions where I’ve been out with mates, and for whatever reason, haven’t been able to pay for a round of drinks or a meal but I will always make that conscious effort to repay them as soon as I can. With Christmas just around the corner, and purse strings being pulled tighter and tighter, it’s so important not to take our mates for granted and settle up as soon as you can. And let’s face it, it’s so easy to pay people back straight away these days that there’s really no excuse. Whether that’s using mobile apps like Barclays Pingit or transferring money online. No need to trek down to the cash machine like the old days!”

The research also suggests that generosity and goodwill can and will be taken for granted, especially during the festive season. More than one in ten (11%) of respondents admits they have pretended to ‘forget’ to pay a mate back. And it seems they’re getting away with it, with half (47%) of those who’ve lent money to a friend not bothering to ask for it back, and a quarter (23%) of these claiming too much time had passed for them to ask for their money back. Men are more likely to ‘forget’ to pay mates back – 12% versus 9% of women.

Derek White, Chief Customer Experience Officer commented: “Christmas is a special time, but in tough economic times we’re all that bit more concerned about keeping control of our finances. It can be tough to keep track of spending and money loaned to friends, whilst some mates may intentionally ‘forget’, most are simply too busy to notice or remember. To help friends pay each other back, our Pingit app has proven hugely popular, most people use it between 6 and 7pm on a Friday – just about the time that they are clocking out and heading to the pub. They are using it for all sorts of reasons – from paying for petrol, to pooling money for their mum’s gift.”

The study also revealed:

  • One in ten young people (9%) aged 18-24 years old have forgotten to pay their mates back, versus only 4% of the over 55s
  • Half (50%) of respondents who’ve lent money to a friend and not bothered to ask them to pay the money back claim they haven’t asked to be paid back because it was too small an amount, with £27 being the magic number for the maximum amount, people wouldn't bother to ask back.
  • When it comes to lending, the Welsh are most likely to get the grump over unpaid debts with a quarter of those surveyed admitting to falling out with mates over money
  • For people feeling thirsty, seek out the Northern Irish, who are most likely to offer rounds in the pub (72%)
  • Household bills most popular lending item in Wales (29%), the North West (32%) and East Midlands (26%), whereas a night out is most likely to top the list in the North East (30%), and a meal out in London (36%).

Top tips on how to ask for your money back…

  • Agree when your mates will pay the money back before handing over the cash
  • Make a mental note of how much is owed and ask them politely for the cash back the following day. Hopefully (more often than not) their lack of generosity is purely accidental
  • Give them the necessary details the following day, as a gentle reminder to pay back the money owed.
  • Or, settle it then and there with technology

For more information about the free Barclays Pingit mobile money transfer app please visit

About Barclays
Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth management with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.

With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 140,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website

-Ends -

For further information:

Barclays contacts:

Emma Austin - 07775 541675

Notes to editors:

About the research

1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,145 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th-14th November 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
2. £2.3 billion Great Mate Debt figure is calculated based on 44.9 m UK adults, multiplied by the mean amount that respondents cited their friends owe them in total at any given time. ONS Population estimates mid-2010.

Government region breakdown – Regions most like to buy a round

Region Percentage
Northern Ireland    72%
North East    66%
West Midlands 66%
Scotland 66%
South West 65%
East Midlands 63%
North West 62%
London 62%
South East    60%
Wales 57%
East of England    56%
Yorkshire & the Humber 51%

3. Barclays Pingit app helps people to avoid those awkward money moments by settling tabs straight away. It t allows users to receive and send money, for free, to anyone with a UK current account and UK mobile phone number, simply by using that mobile number, without the need to share bank details. It’s received over 1.29 million downloads and to date has handled over 800,000 transactions to the total value of £56 million.

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Emma Austin
+44 (0) 7775 541675
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