Mobile operators T-Mobile and Orange are to introduce NFC-capable SIM cards by the summer that will allow customers to make contactless payments directly from their phones.
The system, set up in collaboration with Barclaycard, will launch towards mid-year, with 40,000 outlets already in place and more to be added in due course.
Near field communication (NFC) technology allows transactions to be made between two compatible devices simply by holding them near to each other – like the Oyster card system in London or the digital bus passes used in many towns and cities in the UK. It is already in use in upwards of 10 million credit cards, the majority of them Barclaycards.
The system will debut on the Orange network, claims Recombu, with T-Mobile to follow in due course.
“This is the beginning of a revolution in how we pay for things on the high street. It’s a cultural shift that is as important as the launch of the personal credit card or ATMs,” said Gerry McQuade, Everything Everywhere's chief development officer.
“We’re making something that’s been talked about for many years a reality and very soon, using your mobile to buy a sandwich, a cinema ticket or in time, even something bigger like a computer will simply be the norm.”
We're still some way away from that reality, but Pret a Manger, EAT, Little Chef, McDonalds and Co-Op are a step in the right direction for now.
The approach of embedding NFC capability in a SIM card rather than the mobile phone itself will be welcome news for the majority of mobile users, as it means not necessarily having to upgrade, although Orange says not all handsets will be compatible with the SIM.