It’s limited to 1,000 customers at the moment, and doesn’t support the iPhone 5 yet. But it should be available for all iPhone-owning customers of RBS and Natwest in the UK “in the near future”.
If you were one of the first 1,000 to sign up, you’ll be able to pay for goods and services using your iPhone 4 or 4S and an NFC-enabled protective cover. This cover – named iCarte, developed by Wireless Dynamics, Inc. – is needed to make it work.
All you do is slap on the case, and follow the on-screen instructions to download the TouchPay app from the App Store. Once you’re up and running, you’ll be able to pay for goods and services up to £20 without entering your PIN or signing your name. Just touch your phone on the sensor, and you’re done.
You can also see what you’ve been spending on through the app.
More than 9,000 RBS customers signed up for the service in just three days.
NFC services like Google Wallet and Apple Passbook haven’t really taken off, but TouchPay could help speed up adoption of mobile-powered purchases. “A key industry challenge in bringing mobile contactless payments to consumers is finding ways to enable existing smartphones that do not offer NFC technology,” said Sandra Alzetta, senior vice president and head of mobile at Visa Europe.
“Services like TouchPay show how NFC-enabled accessories for smartphones can deliver the future of payments today and help hasten mainstream adoption.”