updated 08:20 pm EDT, Wed April 18, 2012
Barclays tries ad hoc NFC payment tech
Barclays on Wednesday night brought out a mobile payment system that's independent of any one platform. Paytag is a small, plastic add-on that users can stick to a phone, or any object, that lets it make NFC payments at a supporting store. Those with a Barclaycard Visa can pay for goods worth up to £15 ($24) now, with an extension to £20 ($32) in June.
The system is reportedly as secure as a conventional card. Although not as sophisticated as a smartphone app, it means customers don't have to replace their phones or other hardware to start making payments, Barclays said. As an example, customers at an event got to use mockup iPhones with Paytag stuck on the back, showing how a device that currently doesn't use NFC could still make Paytag work.
Anyone with a one of the credit cards will eventually get a Paytag unit for free, although only some customers are getting them now. Initial coverage for the NFC system, which doesn't have an exact go-live date, includes UK-oriented chains like Boots, Waitrose, WH Smith, and Tesco, as well as McDonald's. It may ultimately extend to London buses before the end of the year and the London Underground in 2013.
Full device-aware NFC payment systems have been tested in the UK and elsewhere so far, but very few are in regular, consistent use outside of Japan. A lack of consistent device support and competing formats has often been blamed for the gap. Barclays' method may serve as a bridge to get more customers familiar with NFC before it's integrated into devices. [via The Inquirer]