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Bizum: Why you probably need this free payment app for life in Spain

The Local Spain
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Bizum: Why you probably need this free payment app for life in Spain
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With over 20 million users in Spain, this mobile payment service is how many Spaniards choose to split the bill, pay over small amounts for services and even pay the rent. Here's how it works and why you probably need it.

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What is Bizum?

Bizum is a Spanish mobile service that allows users to send an amount of money that usually ranges between 50 cents and €500 per operation, just by knowing the recipient's phone number,

It’s a free app service which was launched by Spain’s main banks in 2016 as a way of competing with other mobile payment services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Paypal and others.

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Why do Spaniards like using Bizum so much?

One of Bizum’s main advantages is that the sender doesn’t have to type out the long IBAN and other account details that come with regular money transfers.

There’s also the fact that the recipient receives the money immediately for free, whereas other immediate banking transfers often come with a price tag. 

It’s also possible to request money from another person through Bizum. 

Nowadays if you meet up with Spanish friends and it comes to splitting the bill, you’ll likely hear from at least one person, ¿Tienes Bizum? (Do you have Bizum?). 

Others use it for regular payments, even to pay their rent or services such as Nexflix and Spotify.

It’s fast, easy, free and according to a 2020 study by Caixabank Research, Bizum proved particularly useful during Spain’s Covid-19 lockdowns when going out to withdraw money from an ATM wasn’t always an option. 

Bizum is particularly popular among Spaniards aged 25 to 44, who make up 48 percent of users.

Many businesses and shops in Spain are now also allowing customers to pay through Bizum, so if you forget your wallet with your cards and cash in it, there’s the possibility of paying immediately through your mobile. 

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All in all, Bizum is the go-to mobile payment service in Spain with more than 20 million users, so if you’re based in Spain it will probably come in handy for you to have it activated too.

Otherwise, your Spanish friends and acquaintances may be put off by the fact that they can't give you the exact amount in cash, that they have to go to the ATM to withdraw money or that they have to spend time doing a stand bank transfer which may even cost them extra.

How is Bizum used?

Bizum does not work as an independent application, so to register you must do so through your mobile banking app. It may be possible through the mobile banking app you have already or through a separate app your bank offers for quick mobile payments. 

When you access Bizum, you’ll have to sign in to your banking app with your usual details and once in, you’ll have to choose which account you want to link the Bizum service to (you can only have one associated account, although this can be changed).

Next up you’ll need to select the person you’re sending money to from your mobile’s contact list or manually enter their phone number, type the amount to send and finally confirm the transaction by means of a code you’ll get via SMS. 

If the recipient has Bizum, the money appears in their account in just five seconds. If not, they will be prompted to sign up as it is necessary for the receiver of the money to have Bizum.

Bizum will let the sender know before the transaction occurs whether the recipient has Bizum.

If you want to request money instead of sending it, you also have to add the contact, the amount and the payment description. You then confirm the request and validate the operation with the code that you’ll get via SMS.

Why does Bizum limit the number of payments per month?

Bizum limits users to 60 payments a month.

“We adjusted the operation to the reality of what was being used. Only 0.07 percent of users received more than 60 bizums per month,” Bizum's Director of Business Development, Fernando Rodríguez is quoted as saying in 20Minutos.

In fact, most recipients of bizums receive an average of 4.3 operations per month. "This is very far from the limit of the 60 that we have fixed,” emphasised Rodríguez.

Another reason that Bizum is reducing the number of payments is due to security issues. "By reducing the limit of operations received, it is more difficult to use Bizum to receive funds improperly," Rodríguez told 20 Minutos. This means that fewer 'under the table' payments can be made.

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It is important to note that this measure affects only the number of bizums that a user can receive. Anyone can continue to send as many bizums as they want per month.

The rest of the conditions remain as before: the amount allowed for each operation is between €0.5 and €500 (some banks allow higher payments up to €1,000), you cannot receive more than €2,000 per day and, at most, 30 recipients can be included in a joint payment. However, banks can add extra limits, so if in doubt you should check with your bank.

The future of Bizum 

Currently, more than twenty banks in Spain include Bizum payments as an option among their services and it has more than tripled its users in just two years, going from six million in 2019 to almost 23 million in 2022.

READ ALSO: Readers reveal: The best smartphone apps for life in Spain

Can you make a Bizum to a person with an account abroad?

Despite the growth of Bizum into a part of daily Spanish life, unfortunately it isn't possible to send money via Bizum to a foreign account. As the company itself explains: "Although we love to travel abroad, Bizum's service is not yet available for bank accounts outside Spain". 

Not yet, it says, so watch this space - perhaps in the future we'll be able to easily transfer money between accounts internationally via Bizum.

But for now, if you want to transfer money to someone abroad who has a foreign mobile number registered with Bizum and, crucially, a Spanish bank account, you can send them money via Bizum.

"There would be no problem to make a Bizum to foreign mobiles that have a Spanish bank account associated with it," Bizum says on its website.

For many foreigners in Spain, they'll be hoping transfers between international accounts will be available soon.

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Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2021/06/19 17:22
A friend recently received an urgent request from her boss for a payment of €500 via bizum. She tried to ring her without success and ended up sending the money. It was a scam. Her boss’s phone had been hacked. She lost the money as neither bizum nor the bank would refund her.

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