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Orange and Barclaycard dip their toes in the mobile wallet market

by Scott Bicheno on 20 May 2011, 09:54

Tags: Orange (NYSE:FTE)

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Orange seeds

We told you the mobile wallet isn't far away. Mobile operator Orange and credit card company Barclaycard have launched ‘Quick Tap', which they're calling ‘the UK's first contactless mobile phone payments service'.

This is certainly one of the first public manifestations of mobile contactless payments - i.e. using NFC to enable instant payment direct from your mobile handset via a contactless reader. But this is very much a first tentative step into this market, which is why we're calling it a pilot, even though Orange isn't.

There are several limits to this pilot. It only works on one tailor-made handset - the Samsung Tocco Quick Tap - which Orange is making available on PAYG for £60 and on £10 per month contracts. Of course not every retailer is on-board, but the likes of Pret A Manger and Subway are, with over 50,000 stores having the readers.

And then there's the contentious bit: money. The phone won't take money directly from your bank or credit card account when you pay for something, instead you use an app to transfer up to £100 into the phone, and it's from that pool of cash that you make your payment. Also, you can only use this service to buy things that cost £15 or under.

"We no longer use our mobile phones simply for talking and texting - apps, cameras and music players allow us to use them for a lot more," said Orange VP Pippa Dunn. "So, making contactless payments with your mobile is a natural and really exciting innovation which we're pleased to be leading on in the UK.

"Orange Quick Tap is the first of its kind, a service that allows you to pay for everyday items just by tapping your phone wherever you see the contactless payment symbol. It's going to start a revolution in the way we pay for things on the high street."

Orange is supporting this launch with a marketing campaign, and has even produced the video below for people who can't understand something unless it's presented to them by cavorting cartoon characters, but this launch is as much about the concept as the service itself.

Having said that, Orange and Barclaycard deserve plenty of kudos for pioneering this technology, as there had been a sense that everyone in the industry has been waiting for someone else to take the lead, and the risk. Someone had to get the ball rolling and we should all be pleased they are seeding the UK market. Now it's down to the rest of the tech/mobile/financial/retail world to join the party.



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