When will contactless mobile payments be more than talk in the UK?

Barclaycard have outlined its commitment to develop a ‘mobile wallet’ by looking to extend its contactless payment portfolio from credit cards to mobile devices, wristbands and RFID tag stickers.

At a roundtable discussion hosted in food store, EAT, this week, Barclaycard said it is “taking payments to the next level.”

In partnership with Orange, Barclaycard said it continues to liaise with phone manufacturers about embedding a chip into a handset to allow for contactless payments via mobile devices.

But the discussion threw up more questions than answers.

For now, Barclaycard’s contactless payments are processed through the same payment technology as standard cards with periodic PIN checks.

But when asked who had responsibility of payment between financial services companies and mobile phone operators in light of a contactless-enabled handset being stolen, Barclaycard’s head of research and development, Colin Swain, answered both parties can cancel payments.

If, hypothetically, Orange and Barclaycard can control the blocking of a bank account or smartphone application, how will that work?

Swain also said Barclaycard plan to develop a private cloud application to store consumers’ purchase receipt data but gave no details about how they will provide a secure data service.

As the first retailer in the UK to have an integrated contactless system with Barclaycard and EPoS supplier, Vivotech, EAT is now set to pilot mobile payment stickers and contactless loyalty cards in early 2011.

“We are pleased to have been involved in the growth of contactless technology from the start and the next step for us is working towards payments via mobile phone, which is already a huge phenomenon in the Far East,” says EAT head of IT, Rene Batsford.

“It won’t be long before customers in the UK can swipe their mobile phones over contactless terminals in order to pay for items – and we want to be at the forefront of that,” he adds.

The UK has thousands of contactless payment terminals and millions of contactless cards in circulation. But the progression of using mobile devices for contactless payments – and particulars of how financial services firms and mobile network operators will manage mobile contactless payments – is still a lot of talk and not much tangible detail.