Orange Kicks Off The Payment Phone Revolution

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Barclaycard, Orange and Samsung have launched a virtual wallet for contactless payments by mobile phone

Barclaycard and Orange have launched Quick Tap, a contactless payment system based on Samsung Tocco mobile phones. The near field communications (NFC) payment scheme is the first commercial system to be based on a mobile phone in the UK.

Contactless payment systems use a special pad connected to the cash register in retail outlets. By holding a phone running the Quick Tap app within four inches of the pad, a debit is made automatically through the Barclaycard credit card or Barclays debit card network for purchases up to a maximum of £15.

Interest In Phone Payments Growing

At the moment it can only be considered as a field trial because only 50,000 retail outlets are equipped with the reader pads and the £15 limit is restrictive. Added to this, there are only two phones in the Orange range that are NFC-enabled: the Samsung Tocco Lite and Tocco Quick Tap. Also, the user must be a Barclay Bank or Barclaycard customer.

Orange and Barclaycard say that the system has been developed and rigorously tested to ensure customers’ transactions and personal data will be protected and secure. Users have the option to enter a PIN number on their handset before each transaction providing an additional layer of security and the £15 limit also protects users from large losses if the phone is stolen and used fraudulently. There is also the comfort of the Barclays and Barclaycard fraud guarantee to protect users.

The Samsung phones use a secure SIM which can be charged on a monthly contract or available in a pay-as-you-go format. The phones offer an alternative to the 12.9 million contactless payment cards currently in circulation.

The companies claim that the system is secure and the app keeps track of payments made so that customers can keep track of their spending on a transaction by transaction basis. Shops currently accepting payments include McDonalds, Pret a Manger, EAT, Little Chef and Subway.

NFC Gaining Traction

The number of phones including the NFC technology are increasing and Google, with various payment card partners, is investigating the inclusion of NFC payment technology for Android phones in the US. So it would seem that Orange has stolen the limelight for the time being.

Samsung and Visa have also agreed to provide phones for a contactless payment network based around the Olympic Games next year. Competitors will be given a phone to use but others will have to join a scheme such as Quick Tap to take advantage of the speedy transaction system.

At the moment, the mobile phone makers have to install their own extensions to handle the payment technology and it is not clear when operating systems will be available that have NFC built-in. It looks like iPhone users may have to wait until iPhone 6 appears in 2012 before they can take advantage of the technology.

O2 has also been testing contactless payment systems since 2009 and was widely expected to be first to market with NFC phones, but the company has said it will not be launching until later this year.

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