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Near Field Communication

Contactless Payments have been with us for a while. Barclaycard has had the feature since 2008 and you don’t even need to ride a roller coaster to work to use it. With Apple Pay, Barclays’ bPay stickers and EE’s Cash on Tap app everyone will be tapping to pay for things. The transaction can be almost twice as fast as conventional cash, credit or debit card methods. But what exactly is it?

Contactless Payments make use of a technology called Near Field Communication (NFC). The card, sticker or mobile phone has a unique radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded with a thin copper wire around the edge acting as an antenna. The card reader at the point of sale terminal emits an electromagnetic field. When the device enters this field it starts communicating with the reader in an encrypted language and the transaction is made. Apple Watch users don’t have it quite so easy due to having to hold their wrist up to the terminal and press a button twice but even then, with no signature or PIN verification required the whole process is still much faster.

Like all new technology, there have been problems reported. Card clash seems to be the most common, with a wallet full of debit and credit cards tapping the whole thing could result in the wrong card being debited. Transport for London even have a whole page explaining how to avoid it so travelers aren’t hit with extra charges.

Security concerns are minimised too, being able to tap to make a payment could mean fraudsters simply need to bump into you to extract money. If an Apple Pay user is using their iPhone, they need to use the device’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner to authenticate the transaction. There are payment limits set on single transactions. For example bPay will only let you pay for things £20 and under although that will be increased to £30 in September 2015. There is little chance of making accidental payments either as the device needs to be about 5cm from the reader to make the transaction. So no chance that you will accidental pay for someone else’s sandwich. And finally to mitigate concerns over identity theft, contactless cards and devices do not hold details about the user. Instead a placeholder name is used.

With Mastercard insisting all payment terminals in Europe should accept contactless payments by 2020, Southampton FC is the first football club globally to offer its loyal fans the band for free. Southampton FC are issuing bPay bands to its season ticket holders which will enable them to have exclusive offers, special experiences and prize draws. Soon we will all be tapping!

Bigwave media is a creative marketing agency working with clients across the UK. To discuss campaign ideas that we can help you develop, please contact us on 0845 643 2385 or complete our contact form.

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