Samsung’s new phone is the first to use Barclaycard and Orange’s ‘Quick Tap’ payment technology.
Orange and Samsung have teamed-up with Barclaycard to provide mobile phone payments with the new “Quick Tap” payment technology.
Like the abolition of the £1 note or the introduction of the £2 coin, yesterday was a historic day for British money. But that wasn’t thanks to the Royal Mint or the Bank of England. Courtesy of Barclaycard, Orange and Samsung, consumers across the UK can now pay for goods and services with nothing more than a mobile phone.
This technology, much trialled but never launched, will admittedly be used mostly for buying cups of coffee and snatched lunchtime sandwiches, but when Orange’s head of mobile payments, Jason Rees, calls it “the beginning of a new order”, he’s not wrong.
YouGov research, commissioned by digital payments provider Intelligent Environments, says 42 per cent of smartphone users want to use their phones as mobile wallets. Owners of the Apple iPhone are keenest, but significant proportions of BlackBerry and Google phone users want to take advantage of it too.
That’s not because technology built into mobile phones is the way that everything, from cameras to translators, seems to be going. It’s down to the fact that this new mobile-based method is quick, simpler and crucially, more secure than anything we’ve got available at the moment.
Barclaycard has quietly been rolling out so-called “contactless” payment systems across the UK for several years now. That means there are devices in shops up and down the country that require users, for transactions up to £15, to simply touch their specially updated credit and debit cards to complete the transaction. Although just a million or so such p(a)in-free transactions have been made in the last twelve months, the rate is already doubling each year.
The advantages of a contactless credit card, however, are limited. You still need a card with you, and because the card itself cannot be authenticated, every five times or so it requires the standard chip-and-pin payment method. With a mobile phone’s data connection, however, all transactions can be authorised and completed instantly.
In due course, transactions over £15 will be permitted if a pin is entered on the mobile phone. That, too, is more secure than the traditional keypad. And the £15 maximum payment will rise steadily over time. This technology is cheaper for banks, shops and customers. Almost everybody’s happy.
The snag, however, is that for now only one phone, one payment provider and one network operator provides this whizzy technology. So yesterday was a milestone but not a tipping point: Orange customers, with a Barclaycard who took the trouble to buy a specially made Samsung Tocco handset can take advantage of the new systems. Even though the ‘near-field communications’ technology is built into a wide and growing number of phones already, only this one so far satisfies the complex, long-time-coming security standards.
Using an app on the mobile phone, customers can top up their wave and pay account from a connected credit or debit account by up to £100, to a total of £150. The app allows a constant, running check on transactions and provides a real, useful and sometimes painful tally of expenditure. Any losses are limited to that £150 total, but they’d be borne by BarclayCard rather than the customers anyway.
But to dwell on that disappointment is to miss the point: even if rumours that NFC payments are to be built into the forthcoming iPhone turn out to be untrue, this revolution is inevitable because O2 are already working on their ‘mobile wallet’ equivalent, which will launch in the coming months, Google is working with MasterCard and a host of other manufacturers have similar plans.
Indeed, as with almost all significant new technology, the appeal is mainly in the simplicity of NFC. More secure yet less hassle, it’s surprising mainly that this technology has been so unpopular in the UK when it has been ubiquitous in South Korea and Japan. Britain, however, is finally catching up.