Intuit Develops NFC App for M-Payment Service on Android Phones

U.S.-based Intuit is demonstrating an NFC mobile-payment application for Android NFC phones that it says could enable small merchants to accept credit card payments with a tap of their phones on the NFC phones of customers.

The company is showing the application, which Intuit acknowledges is still in the “concept phase,” at the Google I/O 2011 developer conference being held today and tomorrow in San Francisco. Intuit spokeswoman Sharna Brockett told NFC Times the company plans to introduce the NFC application in the “near future.”

If the company, in fact, brings it to market, the NFC app would expand Intuit’s GoPayment credit card processing application for smartphones, which now uses a magnetic-stripe reader attached to the phones.

Fitting smartphones with swipe readers to enable small merchants or individuals to accept card payment is a growing business, and Intuit appears to be the first company that offers the service that has demonstrated its use with full NFC phones.

Major competitors in this small but growing market, Square and VeriFone, are not believed to have adapted their smartphone m-payment services to work with NFC.

But U.S.-based Square's chief operating officer, Keith Rabois, has reportedly said that “if NFC does become popular, we can bake it into our product.”

VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile uses a sleeve for Apple’s iPhone, which does not yet support NFC.

Intuit, which is mainly known for its accounting and tax software programs, such as Quicken and QuickBooks, for consumers and small businesses, introduced GoPayment more than two years ago. It said the mobile-payment service processes more than $19 million worth of transactions per week. The application is available on iPhones, along with smartphones running the Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 operating systems.

According to recent reports, Square processed about $16 million worth of transactions per week during the first quarter of 2011, and the company reportedly forecasted that transaction value would triple in the second quarter.

Like Square, Intuit recently eliminated the additional 15-cent per transaction fee it had charged, in order to attract more small merchants or individuals. Both Square and Intuit continue to charge commissions for each transaction. For Intuit, that amounts to 2.7% of the transaction amount if the merchant swipes the customer's card through the attached reader and 3.7% if he keys in the card number on his phone. The latter operation is less secure.

Sign-ups of new merchants are growing at a rate of 700%, said Intuit’s Brockett, though she declined to specify the actual numbers of merchants.

With Intuit’s NFC app, the idea would be to enable consumers to pay for merchandise using “virtual” payment cards stored on their NFC phones, said the company. “To complete the purchase, the customer and small business owner would simply touch their phones together, eliminating the need to swipe a credit card,” said the company in an announcement today.

A demo the company released shows two people using the application by tapping their Google Nexus S NFC phones together to conduct a payment transaction.

After tapping, the customer is asked to approve the purchase by touching a button on her phone screen. Then the merchant taps a button on his screen to send the transaction over the mobile network for authorization.

He then signs the transaction on his phone screen, using his finger, and asks the customer if she wants a receipt. The merchant transmits the receipt to the customer by again tapping his phone on her phone. He also could send the receipt by text message.

Intuit said merchants could “scan” items for purchase or add products to store inventory by tapping them with their phones, as long as the products had NFC tags attached to them. Prices would have to come down for NFC product tagging to be economical, agreed Intuit’s Brockett.

Among questions yet to be answered would be how the NFC-enabled GoPayment application would handle security. It’s also unclear if the application uses NFC’s peer-to-peer mode when the merchant and customer tap their phones together, or if the merchant’s phone is acting as a reader and the customer’s phone is emulating a card. Google’s Android operating system does not yet support NFC card emulation, so it appears the application uses P2P mode.

In any case, the payment application, whether it supports Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass or other contactless application, would undoubtedly have to be stored on secure chips in the phones. But Intuit’s Brockett said she did not know if the application in the demo used a secure chip in the Nexus S.

Secure chips aside, NFC is more secure than swipe transactions because the merchant never sees the customer’s card, she said.

“One of the advantages we see (with NFC) definitely is security,” she told NFC Times. “The transaction happens in the cloud and so actual credit card data or numbers, they’re not exposed in the transaction.”

 

HEADLINE NEWS

Apple Pay Enables Ventra Closed-Loop Fare Card in Chicago after Long Delay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple has finally made good on plans to enable fare payments through Apple Pay with the closed-loop Ventra card from the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, the latest major closed-loop card the tech giant has enabled in recent months.

Visa Rolls Out SoftPOS technology as It Seeks to Promote Acceptance of Contactless by More Small and Micro-Merchants

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight -  Visa is rolling out what it calls “Tap to Phone” technology to 15 global markets, as it seeks to enable millions of small and micro-merchants that now mainly take cash to also accept contactless EMV credit and debit cards and credentials on NFC devices.

Trip-Planning Apps Moovit and Transit Enable Ticketing and Payments for Another Transit Agency

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Multimodal trip-planning apps Moovit and Transit have introduced ticketing and payments in their apps for another North American transit agency, following an emerging trend for trip-planning apps to enable users to plan, book and pay for their rides all in one place. The app providers are offering the extra service as they seek ways to give users a better mobility-as-a-service experience.

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Seeks to Expand Involvement in Public Transit and Other Mobility Payments Projects

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the acquirer and processor for the open-loop payments service rolled out by Transport for New South Wales in Sydney, says it is negotiating with transit officials in other Australian states to help launch similar payments services. It also hopes to be involved in payments for mobility-as-a-service platforms.

Report: Nearly Two-Thirds of Survey Respondents Say They’ve Used Contactless Cards During Pandemic

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is helping to change the way that consumers pay, with more use of contactless cards, mobile wallets and e-commerce channels, according to the “World Payments Report 2020” published Tuesday by global consulting firm Capgemini.

UK Public Transit Officials in Midlands Seek to Replicate London’s Success in Pay-as-You-Go Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transit officials in the Midlands in the UK today are calling on the government to fund a London-style contactless fare-payments system across this large section of the country, which would enable riders to tap to pay for trips on rail, bus and tram networks with either closed- and open-loop cards and credentials on smartphones.  

Post-Lockdown, Transit Riders Want Agencies to Run Vehicles More Frequently, Provide Real-Time Arrival Information and Offer Contactless and Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight - Up to a third of transit riders in several cities say contactless payments and mobile ticketing would encourage them to return t

New York’s OMNY Project Completes Major Milestone, as Transit Officials Point to Steady Growth in Adoption

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is seeing steady growth in use of its OMNY open-loop fare payments system by customers–though overall open-loop payments remain small–as the agency continues its phased rollout of acceptance of contactless EMV bank cards and NFC Pays wallets. 

In-Depth: Trip-Planning Giant Moovit Begins to Enable Ticketing and Payments, as Rivals Make Similar Moves

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Moovit, which bills itself as the world's largest “urban mobility app,” has begun to enable public transit ticketing and payments from its platform, as it seeks to deliver what it says is a true mobility-as-a-service experience for users.

Los Angeles Transit Authority Follows Through with Plans to Enable TAP Card for Apple Pay; Google Pay to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another major U.S. transit agency has introduced a virtual closed-loop card for Apple Pay this week, with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, announcing the move Thursday. It comes a couple of days after the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, announced it had put its SmarTrip closed-loop card on Apple’s NFC-enabled devices, as well.

Apple Enables Virtual SmarTrip Fare Card for Apple Pay in Washington, D.C., with More Closed-Loop Transit Cards Expected This Year in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple added support for its latest closed-loop transit card for Apple Pay, enabling customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to tap their NFC-enabled iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for rides with WMATA’s SmarTrip virtual card.

Insight: Apple’s Long Game Pays Off, Conquering Resistance to Apple Pay from Banks in Europe and Beyond

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – It’s coming up on six years since Apple announced its groundbreaking digital-payments service, Apple Pay. And while consumer adoption remains a work in progress, Apple has had considerable success gaining participation from banks and other issuers in what is now more than 50 countries worldwide.