The Technology behind the Contactless Challenge

Last updated: 20 March 2014

If you read my recent blog post about our forthcoming Contactless Challenge, you may wish to know more about the technology behind the payments that Ewan MacLeod and Jon Choo will be making in and around London in the coming weeks.

I’ll admit, inspired by the latest James Bond film, I may have been a little overzealous in suggesting that using a cell phone to make payments will place you on a pedestal with 007. The reality is that NFC technology is for everyone and readily available for a range of tasks, including making payments. You certainly don’t have to be a member of the British Secret Service to enjoy it.

NFC technology is something that most manufacturers have integrated into their premium handsets. For the Contactless Challenge we’ll be using two pre-paid Quick Tap Samsung Galaxy SIII handsets, on the Orange network (part of Everything Everywhere, rebranded as EE) in order to test the latest Quick Tap wallet application for Android, available for download from the Google Play store.

Quick Tap is a contactless payment application developed by Orange and Barclaycard that links both the NFC technology located in a handset with the secure contactless micro-SIM (inserted separately) to allow users to pay for items of under £20 at contactless payment terminals in the UK. Both handset and micro-SIM need to be Quick Tap-enabled to make payments with the app.

If you don’t already own an NFC handset yourself, our Contactless Challenge aims to demonstrate exactly what you’re missing when it comes to making payments. It’s worth mentioning that if you do have a Samsung Galaxy SIII and plan on matching our bloggers’ activities, you’ll need the latest iteration of the handset, issued from September 5th 2012 to be eligible for making payments. You can check the version of your software by entering *#1234# from your keypad. All Samsung users can access software updates here.

While developed by Orange and Barclaycard, the good news is that you don’t have to own a Barclaycard account to add funds to your phone. Once registered, up to £150 can be stored on your Quick Tap enabled handset and you can add up to £100 from any MasterCard or Visa credit or debit card at any one time.

During our challenge we’re encouraging Ewan and Jon to be as adventurous as possible (in order to earn more points), but for those of you at home, there are plenty of recognizable businesses offering contactless payment terminals. A list of participating outlets can be found on the both the Orange and Barclaycard websites. With names like Subway, Pret A Manger, MacDonald’s and The Slug and Lettuce on the menu, it remains to be seen how far and wide these terminals have been implemented.

So tell us, have you seen anywhere offering contactless payments in London for our bloggers to try? Where do you think Ewan and Jon will be spending most of their time?

To follow the Contactless Challenge on Twitter and put your questions or tips to our bloggers @Ew4n and @JonChoo, check out the hashtag: #GemaltoNFC.