Natwest Launches TouchPay NFC Contactless Payment Trial

Mobile banking customers can sign up for the trial which lets them make payments with their iPhone

Natwest has launched a trial of TouchPay, its new contactless payment service that allows its customers to make NFC payments using their iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.

The bank is inviting its mobile banking users to register their interest in the trial, which will see 1,000 people test out the scheme over the next four months. Their feedback will be then used to determine the future of the programme.

Natwest NFC needs you

Participants will be sent a free iCarte cover to attach to their iPhone, which provides two way near-field communications (NFC) data, similar to an Oyster card or other contactless payment device.

The iCarte will prompt users to download the TouchPay app. They will then be able to pay for purchases of £20 or less direct from their current account wherever the contactless symbol visible. Participating retailers include McDonalds, Pret A Manger, Subway and Eat.

TouchPay works directly with customers’ current account in the same way as their debit card, and all transactions can be viewed instantly in the application. The service is free, but data charges may apply, and Natwest says that it hopes to make it available for owners of phones on other platforms such as Android and BlackBerry.

Natwest has assured users that TouchPay is secure and that there are two payment settings to choose from. The automatic setting allows payments simply by touching the phone against the reader, while users will occasionally be asked to enter the passcode to ensure that they’re still in possession of the device. The manual setting requires the passcode to be entered for every transaction.

However if NatWest parent RBS suffers another systems glitch like the one it suffered earlier this month, then trial participants might not be able to make payments at all. Natwest customers were left unable to make payments or access some online services following the failure.

Rival bank Barclays earlier this year launched Pingit, a smartphone application that links a person’s mobile phone number to their current account, although this was not contactless.

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