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Mobile NFC - The chicken and the egg arrive together!

The full scale launch of a new mobile phone payment solution by Orange and Barclaycard, marks a sea change for electronic payments both in the UK, and a wider afield. We have seen many successful mobile NFC pilots with consumers loving the speed and convenience, but until now no commercial roll out of this technology.

The fact that two of the UKs largest banks and MNOs are working together answers "the chicken or the egg" question that has been holding back wide scale adoption of contactless and NFC payments. The technology and user acceptance has been proven, and now we see that banks and MNOs starting to make the investment to make mobile payments widely available to consumers.The use of an NFC enabled SIM should mean that Orange can make this available to its customers quickly and without having to replace all their handsets.

Some other countries, such as Poland, are now actively rolling out a contactless infrastructure, and all newly installed POS devices will have contactless capability by default. As these all use the established MasterCard and Visa Standards, Orange customers will shortly be able to use their phones to pay there too.

This is good news for the economy, banks and payments processors. Cash is very expensive to handle – it needs counting, storing and physical security – whereas electronic payments can all be handled automatically. Furthermore, electronic payments provide a strong source of revenue for banks and payments processors at a time when there is more pressure than ever to focus on “back to basics banking” rather than high-risk activities.

The key for other banks wanting to offer mobile payments will be to ensure that they have agile payments systems equipped to handle payments from any source. Without putting these types of systems in place, they could find themselves struggling to handle the increasing payments volumes in the future.

Paul Love
Mobile Payments Consultant