Orange UK and Barclaycard Add Galaxy S III to Quick Tap Service; More Phones Planned for Q4
Orange UK and Barclaycard have announced the availability of the popular Samsung Galaxy S III for their Quick Tap NFC payment service, as they seek to spur interest in their as yet little-used service.
The Quick Tap-ready version of the phone, the first new handset made available for the payment service for many months, will become available Wednesday, said Orange and Barclaycard. Users will be able to tap to pay for purchases with it of up to £20 (US$31.77) with a Barclaycard-issued prepaid application supporting MasterCard PayPass. The application will be stored on NFC SIM cards issued by Orange.
Up until now, Orange UK has apparently had only two phones on sale for Quick Tap, including the 2G Samsung Tocco Lite, which Orange and Barclaycard introduced when they launched the service in May of 2011. They later added the Samsung Wave 578. Orange later withdrew the aging phones from its stores, though the Quick Tap versions of the phones could still be used for the payments service for subscribers who carried them.
UPDATE: Tom Gregory, head of digital payments for Barclaycard in the UK, told NFC Times that Orange and Barclaycard plan to make “several” more Android phones available for Quick Tap in the fourth quarter and would “potentially” add phones supporting another mobile platform to the Quick Tap lineup.
He declined to elaborate, but the other platform is likely a reference to forthcoming phones supporting Windows Phone 8. Orange UK's sister operator, Orange France, both part of France Telecom, said in June it would use the planned NFC-enabled Microsoft wallet on its Windows Phone 8 NFC devices in France. END UPDATE.
In an effort to encourage more consumers to take up Quick Tap, the partners will also allow consumers to load value into the Barclaycard prepaid account on their handsets using any UK MasterCard- or Visa-branded debit or credit card. In the past, the reloads had been limited only to Barclaycard credit card accounts or debit accounts of its parent, Barclays bank, as well as Orange UK’s own branded credit card accounts.
UPDATE: “Anyone who buys this phone or uses this phone will be able to use the service,” Gregory said. “It's bringing it to everyone, not limited to a few.” END UPDATE.
New customers and those that upgrade to the Galaxy S III will also get £50 (US$79.43) in free prepaid value if they activate the service between Sept. 5 and Oct. 5.
The launch of Quick Tap more than 15 months ago gave Orange UK and Barclaycard bragging rights to one of the first NFC commercial launches worldwide, but use of the service is believed to be low, in large part because of the limited availability of Quick Tap phones, but also because of the relatively small base of point-of-sale terminals that accept contactless.
UPDATE: The latter is growing in the UK, with more than 100,000 POS terminals now accepting Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass, with 150,000 expected by the end of the year.
Most are small merchants, many of which have had their POS terminal upgrades paid for or subsidized by Barclaycard. But the contactless rollout includes McDonald's restaurants. And a few other tier-one UK chains have signaled they will roll out contactless, such as Marks & Spencer, Starbucks and the UK Post Office–the latter with nearly 12,000 locations.
Transport for London has said it would accept contactless bank cards on more than 8,000 buses by the end of the year, part of a delayed move to open-loop acceptance of fares. And such big merchants as retail pharmacy chain Boots and supermarket retailer Tesco have trialed contactless.
It’s not clear why Orange UK has been slow to add new phones for Quick Tap, though validation of phones with the Barclaycard application on the telco’s SIM cards may be taking longer than expected. Barclaycard's Gregory said the issuer added an extra layer of encryption to the application, which contributed to the added implementation time. But he declined to elaborate.
MasterCard had certified the Galaxy S III to run its PayPass application in May of 2012, shortly before Samsung released the phone, along with certifying some other high-end smartphones. Sister operator Orange France has put 12 NFC phones on sale supporting the French Cityzi NFC service, including the Samsung Galaxy S II, the predecessor to Samsung’s latest flagship phone.
A few operators have already pressed the Galaxy S III into service for their NFC payment rollouts. Gregory contends the addition of the Galaxy S III, a few months after its global release, is timely. He added: “The path for bringing out new Android phones will be quicker.”
Everything Everywhere, the soon to be renamed joint venture of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, is expected to roll out its own prepaid NFC payment application, as part of a partnership it announced last month with MasterCard. The application is likely to become available for Quick Tap phones and, therefore, could compete with the Barclaycard application. Orange UK already has a co-branded contactless card. END UPDATE.