Contactless payments become easier - Business Works
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Contactless payments become easier

David Chan, CEO Barclaycard Consumer Europe Visa predicts that the number of contactless point-of-sale terminals in the UK will rise by 50% to 150,000 this year. At the moment, there are only two models of mobile phone in the UK that have the 'near field' technology built in and it is expected that it will be some time before the take-up of new handsets will make it widely available.

The adoption of contactless payment in the UK has been slow and lags Japan, where it is already widely used, by many years. Payments are limited to £15 at the moment, but this will increase to £20 in June.

"e;Today, we are offering the choice of mobile payments to millions of our customers at no additional cost to them," said David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Consumer Europe. "More than half of us say that the item we’re most lost without is our mobile phone, so we’re giving people the option of using them to make easy, convenient, everyday payments without the need to upgrade their current handset."

Barclaycard PayTag

Barclaycard already has the Quick Tap wallet system with Orange - a mobile payments app. The new PayTag system is a small card that simply sticks to your mobile phone and enables it to be used as though it has the technology built in. The card is about a third the size of a normal one and it will be provided free to existing customers. It will act as a second card on users' accounts, with transactions being specially tagged on statements. Initially it is being offered to selected customers and it will be rolled out fully later in the year.

From the customer's point of view, this may represent a convenient and quicker way to pay, although the speed is achieved in part by not having to enter a PIN. Security is a concern and there has been talk of thieves being able to 'skim' data from chips in users' pockets and bags. Barclaycard assures users that the cards are as secure as normal credit cards and come with '100% fraud protection'. However, retailers may not be so happy, as it is expected that customers will use the credit card for payments instead of cash or debit cards, costing them more in bank fees.

At present, the number of retailers that offer contactless payment is limited, but more are expected to adopt the technology soon. For example, by the end of 2012, London buses will also accept contactless payments, followed by the Tube and the rest of the transport network in the Capital in 2013.

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