Barclays continues to innovate by taking a leading role in mobile payments in Europe. Having just launched the Pingit mobile payments app, it's now bringing contactless payments to Barclaycard, the UK's first credit card. Now, its 12 million Visa Barclaycard credit card customers can look forward to PayTag, a free sticker that enables mobile contactless transactions at more than 100,000 terminals.
The easy-to-use PayTag sticker aims to spur the usage use of smartphones for small purchases, increasing the reach of the Quick Tap NFC (Near Field Communication) service the bank operates in partnership with mobile network operator Orange.
The sticker is about one-third the size of a standard bank card and comes with an NFC chip that affixes to the back of a handset. Orange will make PayTag available on multiple Android smartphones with a starting transaction limit of £15, but rising to £20 in June.
Quick Tap launched in May 2011 but was only available to customers with a Barclays Bank account and on a limited range of mobile phones. Now any UK credit or debit card holder can load money onto the Barclaycard mobile payments app stored in the Quick Tap wallet.
"We're giving people the option of using them to make easy, convenient, everyday payments without the need to upgrade their current handset," stated David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Consumer Europe, at the press preview.
Barclays launched the first contactless cards and terminals in the UK in 2007. New research commissioned by Barclaycard predicts that £3bn worth of purchases will be made in the UK via mobile phones in 2016.
Visa predicts the number of contactless point-of-sale terminals in the UK will rise by 50% to 150,000 this year as major retailers offering contactless point-of-sale terminals in the UK will expand to branches of Waitrose, McDonald's, Boots, WH Smith, Tesco and Asda. Transport for London already enables NFC payments in some London taxis and will roll it out on buses later this year and in the subway network in 2013.
"We strongly believe that mobile contactless will change the way we pay and that is why we're opening the technology up so that everyone can choose to join the payments revolution," said Chan.
Tom Gregory, Head of Digital Payments at Barclaycard, said PayTag has a finite shelf-life as it's an interim step. "The end vision is to have every thing integrated into the mobile handset, and the PayTag will be an accelerator for this technology as well as bringing contactless payments to customers today."
PayTag doesn't require a pin for every transaction, but does come with 100% fraud protection (as with its other cards) and the promise of a refund to anyone who loses a card which is used fraudulently.
“This promise could be severely tested in months to come when users start leaving phones on buses late at night, and thieves realise they can make as many payments as they can before the card is reported missing and cancelled,” notes the Guardian.
As the mobile ‘pay and wave’ revolution comes to fruition, the European Commission has opened an investigation into proposal of a U.K. joint venture between Vodafone Group PLC, Telefonica SA and Everything Everywhere – leaders in mobile commerce.
Preliminary findings suggest concerns about competition in the emergent mobile wallets, mobile advertising and related data analytics services market.
"The Commission is in favor of any initiative that will develop the promising mobile commerce sector in Europe and bring new and innovative payment and interactive advertising experience to consumers," said Joaquin Almunia, the EU's competition commissioner, in a statement.
"At the same time, we need to make sure that competing services can keep emerging on this market, so that incentives to innovate remain and customers get the best mobile commerce services at the best cost."