IP, Technology & Data

Barclays has made waves (pun intended) with its Barclaycard/Oyster Card tie-up (using VISA’s “payWave” contactless payment system). You may have seen the advert with a guy in a water slide (a bit obscure I thought).

Other banks are launching contactless payment cards, that allow you to pay for smaller items without cash or PIN codes. The main advantages to retailers is the time saved – think how long it takes at the till to pay using cash or conventional payment cards – and avoiding the cost of handling cash.

But even using a card seems old fashioned. The future (I believe) is using your mobile phone to pay. The enabling technology is called Near Field Communication (“NFC”), and it is already here.

Imagine a simple journey to work. First stop, the coffee shop You’ll be able to pay for your coffee by ‘waving” your mobile over a sensor – simultaneously racking up loyalty points with the coffee co. Next, get on the bus (careful with that coffee). Again, ‘wave and pay’. You get off the bus and pass a “smart poster” – wave your phone at it for “money off coupons” to be redeemed later.

The holy grail with all these proposals is to be the “one” card or device that people will carry with them at all times. Hence the huge commercial benefit to Barclays from the Oyster Card tie-up (no one goes anywhere in London without their Oyster Card, and London 2012 will be THE big event for adoption of smart payment technology in the UK). sQuid is getting its e-purse technology on to a number of cards issued under the Scottish Government’s entitlement card scheme, and the mobile phone carriers also want a piece of this market.

People are bound to be concerned about fraud, but safeguards are in place to help prevent this. Advances in biometric security may well address these concerns too.

So welcome to the near future and Near Field Communication. Not science fiction at all.

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Martin Sloan

Partner at Brodies LLP
Martin is a partner in Brodies Technology, Information and Outsourcing group and has wide experience of advising clients on technology procurement and IT and business process outsourcing projects. Martin also advises on data protection (including the GDPR), and general technology and intellectual property law, and has a particular interest in the laws applying to social media and new technology such as mobile apps, contactless/mobile payments, and smart metering.
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