Contactless Challenge Day 4 – What we’ve learnt so far

Almost halfway through our contactless challenge with Ewan and Jon, and it’s fair to say it’s been a steep learning curve for all of us.

While there have been plenty of successes, it’s clear that NFC and contactless technology is not quite mainstream (it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was!), and the UK has a way to go before the technology is either ubiquitous or well-understood. Based on Jon and Ewan’s findings so far, here’s a quick list of tips for others looking to use contactless technology in London.

  • NFC has come a long way in a short space of time. Even earlier this year, there was some scepticism as to whether the technology would take off at all. But now it seems there are numerous places where one can ‘go contactless’ on the UK high street
  • Some stores that purport to accept contactless may not always be reliable. Ewan’s experiences in M&S – which had non-functioning NFC payment terminals when he visited – are a case in point. However, perseverance has resulted in success. Just as with the adoption of EMV (‘chip and pin’) some education of both vendors and consumers may be needed to push the technology forward
  • Not every store trialling NFC has found it successful. Jon discovered that YO! Sushi had discontinued its experiment with contactless after it found the £20 spending limit restrictive
  • According to Ewan, using contactless appears to have no discernible impact on battery usage – so you can buy as many sandwiches as you like and still have battery left to tweet about it!
  • NFC has a strong urban bias: Contactless coffees and Coca-Colas are easy to come by in Central London, but the further from the city you get, the more difficult it is to use the technology. Richmond, in West London, where Ewan has done most of his shopping, has plenty of options, whereas Jon has found St Albans (around 20 miles North of Central London) currently seems less well-equipped. This is to be expected of any technology in its infancy
  • (On a lesser note, NFC only seems to allow you to eat unhealthily, with plenty of fast food outlets NFC-enabled and not so many other foodie venues equipped.)
  • There’s a lot of enthusiasm for NFC out there – we’ve seen hundreds of tweets and plenty of challenges for our NFC warriors. The battle is close – it could come down to a ‘wild card’ challenge from the social media sphere to deliver the deciding points.

As day four drew to a conclusion, Ewan looked to have narrowed the gap even further on Jon with a couple of shrewd purchases. However, in the dying embers of Thursday evening, Jon pulled another rabbit out of the hat and scored himself 15 points on what looked like being the trickiest challenge of all. Whilst doughnuts, subs and even shoelaces have proved easy to come by, one product on our list proved particularly elusive – flowers! That is, until Jon rose to the challenge and bought a beautiful bouquet for his good lady, Jennifer Hardi.

With less than six days remaining, Jon leads Ewan by 130 to 113.

The scores so far...

‘Invest’ in a box of treats
Ewan MacLeod
10/10

Jon Choo
10/10

Pick up lunch
Ewan MacLeod
10/10

Jon Choo
10/10

Get ‘a round’ in
Ewan MacLeod
1/20

Jon Choo
20/20

Send Gemalto a postcard
Ewan MacLeod
15/15

Jon Choo
15/15

Go entirely contactless for a day
Ewan MacLeod
50/50

Jon Choo
50/50

Take the boat
Ewan MacLeod
0/20

Jon Choo
20/20

Become a Museum of London expert
Ewan MacLeod
0/15

Jon Choo
15/15

Buy flowers for your partner using NFC
Ewan MacLeod
6/15

Jon Choo
15/15

Social suggestion from one of your followers
Ewan MacLeod
15/15

Jon Choo
10/15

Wildcard
Ewan MacLeod
23/50

Jon Choo
20/50

Pay for a hair cut
Ewan MacLeod
0/20

Jon Choo
1/20

Top up your phone credit
Ewan MacLeod
10/10

Jon Choo
10/10

Watch a film at the cinema
Ewan MacLeod
3/15

Jon Choo
7/15

Buy groceries
Ewan MacLeod
0/15

Jon Choo
15/15

Buy a burrito / wrap
Ewan MacLeod
0/10

Jon Choo
9/10

Buy contactlessly at a drive-thru
Ewan MacLeod
10/10

Jon Choo
0/10

Total Scores:

Ewan MacLeod scores 153 points

Jon Choo scores 227 points


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