Barclaycard Seeks More M-Payment Users with Stickers Despite Its NFC Project
Despite the coming availability of more NFC phones from its partner Orange and the opening up of its prepaid mobile-payment application to funding from other issuers, UK-based Barclaycard has decided it needs more exposure for its contactless m-payment service.
Barclaycard, which with its parent, Barclays bank, have been leading the rollout of contactless cards and terminals in the UK for years, today announced the launch of passive contactless stickers customers can attach to the back of their phones.
The launch of the stickers, called PayTag, follows last Friday’s announcement by Barclaycard and Orange that the partners would expand their Quick Tap NFC service to include certain Android NFC phones. Barclaycard also said it will allow credit or debit card holders from any UK bank to use the Quick Tap service by reloading Barclaycard’s prepaid Quick Tap account with up to £150 (US$240.80) in funds.
In the past, Quick Tap users could only fund the prepaid account from Barclaycard, Barclays or the Orange credit card.
It means Barclaycard will have to pay transaction fees to the other banks. That in addition to the passive stickers–which will have no direct contact with the host phones' application processor–make it clear that Barclaycard is seeing poor usage of Quick Tap.
That is perhaps not surprising given that, at present, only one low-end and one mid-tier NFC phone can support Quick Tap–the 2G Samsung Tocco Lite and Samsung Wave 578, the latter running Samsung's bada operating system.
Orange UK is expected to introduce at least two Android-based phones that can support NFC SIM cards storing Barclaycard’s Quick Tap application: the Samsung Galaxy S II and Acer Liquid Express. Orange UK’s sister operator Orange France, the flagship of their parent, France Telecom-Orange, launched both Android NFC phones months ago.
For some reason, it has taken Orange UK longer to validate and introduce NFC phones than it has for Orange in France.
Orange UK may soon introduce other Android phones for Quick Tap, as well. But Barclaycard believes it needs the contactless stickers to complement the NFC phones. Unlike its NFC application, which supports MasterCard PayPass, the credit card stickers, like most of the bank's contactless cards, support Visa payWave.
The sticker's technology is similar to that of contactless cards, as well, only smaller and with a shorter range. Ferrite shielding insulates the contactless antenna from metal in the phone that can distort transmissions.
“We expect many customers will place their Barclaycard PayTag on their mobile phone, and those that do will get a flavor of what it feels like to use their handsets to make a payment,” a Barclaycard spokeswoman told NFC Times. “Long-term, we see Barclaycard PayTag as complementary to true mobile payments, just as contactless credit cards are complementary to online banking and payments today.”
Visa Europe estimates there are nearly 105,000 contactless point-of-sale terminals in the UK, and predicts that number will grow to up to 150,000 this year.
The estimate includes terminals on 8,500 buses that Transport for London is rolling out accepting open-loop payment of fares. McDonald’s also is accepting contactless in its more than 1,000 restaurants in the UK, and such chains as Asda and Tesco are at least piloting acceptance.
But most UK contactless merchants are small, and have been equipped by Barclaycard’s acquiring arm, which generally has paid for the upgraded terminals.
Consumers with contactless cards, stickers or related applications on NFC phones will be able to pay for purchases of up to £20 without entering a PIN starting in June, up from the current £15, said Barclaycard.