The UK Payments Council has announced the launch of a new mobile payment service, enabling its customers to send and receive funds using only their mobile phone number.

The Paym service works by connecting a customer's mobile phone number to their current account, and allows transfers to be made without requiring the recipient's account number or sort code.

It will make use of the Faster Payments system, meaning that funds will be added to account balances almost instantly.

The launch of Paym follows the announcement of the Zapp service by the UK Payments Council, which differs by focusing on payments made to retailers.

"We're all used to the idea of a 'mobile update' to improve our apps - Paym is a mobile update for payments that means you can pay securely using just a mobile number," said chief executive of the Payments Council, Adrian Kamellard. "Paym will make it easier to repay a friend for cinema tickets, split a restaurant bill or settle up for a colleague's birthday collection."

The service is in its final testing phase, and is due to launch in April year.

At launch, customers of nine banks will be able to use the service: Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Cumberland Building Society, Danske Bank, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Santander and TSB Bank.

Others including Clydesdale Bank, Natwest and RBS have also committed to join later in 2014, while Nationwide plans to roll-out the service in 2015. Metro Bank and Ulster Bank have are also finalising plans.

"The way people use their current accounts is changing," said Tony Prestedge, Nationwide's chief operating officer. "Customers expect to be able to make a payment at any time of the day in a way that suits them. In order provide a compelling alternative to the big banks Nationwide is ensuring it is at the forefront of offering the latest payment initiatives.

"Paym allows our customers to make safe and secure payments directly to other people's bank accounts, just by using their mobile phone number."