Newsflash: the world is moving towards a time when NFC and contactless payments are the norm. What’s more, Barclaycard claims that “more than half of contactless transactions by 2016 will be made using a mobile phone.” But where does that leave us in the here and now? Only a handful of phones in the UK have NFC tech built in, but the Olympics are coming up and queues in London are going to be horrific.
What are we to do? Fret no more: Barclaycard has the most bizarre solution ever: PayTag.
“Leading the market to the future of payments is in our DNA,” said David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard consumer Europe, at a briefing yesterday. The company thinks it’s go time for contactless payments; “Visa predicts that the number of outlets will increase by 50 per cent by the end of the year,” continued Chan, while “all London busses will be accepting contactless payments by the end of 2012.”
And, crucially, Chan is “certain that we’ll all be using phones for in the future is paying for things.” Which is fine if you’ve got a phone with NFC built in now, but what about us that don’t, as with the iPhone? Barclaycard PayTag is apparently the answer. It’s a sticky card about one-third the size of a normal credit card that Barclaycard expects people to glue to the back of their phones.
Yeah… Odd, right? The PayTag links securely to your bank account and allows users to purchase items up to £15 (increasing to £20 in June) across a number of retailers and “100,000 nationwide point of sale terminals.” The promotional images show people with shiny, well-designed white iPhones “discretely” adorned with the PayTag sticker, but we’ve got to ask: how many people will really want to do that?
“We expect this to open the eyes of the public to the advantages of mobile payments” and help “the UK to become a leading market in mobile payments,” said Chan. We’re not convinced. NFC in smartphones is the logical step forward, but this sticky card makes little sense. It’s an obvious stop-gap, but not really a necessary one. And the weird thing is there’s no reason at all to stick the card on your phone. You could keep it in your wallet or have it on your keyring.
“We won’t discourage people doing that,” Says Barclaycard. Hell, you could stick it on your forehead and pay with that, if you like. Barclaycard will be offering the PayTag to 400,000 of its 12 million UK card holders in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, before rolling out the system across the UK thereafter. Are you keen on sticking a massive badge on the back of your phone for the sake of making contactless payments? Let us know your thoughts below.