Orange and Barclaycard bring contactless payments to the UK

Last updated: 20 March 2014

If you were following the news last Friday you’ll have seen that major advances have been made in introducing mobile phone contactless payment systems. Indeed, as reported by Vlad Savov at Engadget (alongside many others), Orange and Barclaycard have launched ‘Quick Tap’ NFC mobile payments in the UK.

The demand is there for contactless payments. Given earlier pilots and trials launched elsewhere have been a success, in France, Turkey and Japan for example, we can safely assume that British consumers will also adopt the technology. However, countless surveys abound, claiming British consumers feel they need more education on contactless technology before they start using contactless cards or mobile phones, or that only one quarter of US and European consumers trust mobile technology for payments. It will be interesting to follow the take-up of contactless payments now that it has arrived.

The beauty lies in the technology’s convenience. Customers using Quick Tap will be able to make purchases of up to £15 across the UK at over 50,000 stores. Whether buying from Pret A Manger, EAT, McDonald’s, Subway, Wilkinson or even Wembley Arena, it won’t matter if you’ve run out of cash or forgotten your wallet. Perfect for all those football and music fans!

The mobile payment service uses MasterCard’s PayPass solution; we here at Gemalto have provided the NFC-equipped SIM and TSM services for Barclaycard; and it will initially be available on the Samsung Tocco Lite handset with more handsets due from other manufacturers.

If users are worried about security, I would tell them that the SIM is used to protect and secure their transactions and data, in the same fashion as a PIN-protected credit or debit card. The secret code stored in the bank domain of the SIM is used to authenticate the user for each transaction. This means that if the phone is lost, no payments can be made without this code, again like with a credit or debit card.

The innovative approach that Barclays has taken is that they have launched a prepaid application. This means that users can recharge their QuickTap account with the amount of their choice. In contrast, the payment applications used by the French banks like Credit Mutuel, CIC, Credit Agricole and BNP as part of the Nice project are debit applications.

For all those who are still unsure how it works, here’s a handy little video to explain it all.