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Saturday, 7 August 2010

We have PayPass - do we need AT&T/Verizon to become banks?

I'm not sure what to make of this week's announcement about AT&T and Verizon trying to push contactless technology in mobiles. They've teamed up with Discover (Fourth biggest behind Visa, Mastercard and Amex) with Barclays handling the accounts and are expected to begin trials in 3Q2011. T-Mobile is also involved.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm not sure why I would want my telco provider involved in such a scheme. Admittedly I haven't seen what the involvement of them would actually be, but I don't particularly want another middleman (who would be taking a cut of sales - I believe the telcos probably went with Discover because of the percentages involved) getting in the way between me and my transactions, and potentially being bounced between more parties if there's a dispute. I'd rather deal more directly with the banks, and not have to risk a service which may potentially be dependent on my staying with a particular provider. For those of you who read my article on SecureCode/VerifiedByVisa you'll know that dealing with banks is already bad enough.

We already have the PayPass system from Mastercard. Barclays in the UK have been promoting it heavily with their waterslide advert (which makes it interesting that they're involved in this new deal) . Some of the barclaycards have the appropriate chip in to do contactless payments, although in the UK outside London there aren't many vendors who can accept them - you can search on the paypass site for any vendors near you. If you haven't already used it it's usable for payments up to £10 in the UK, and doesn't require any PIN or signature, just the swipe over the till. It can theoretically be used even without taking your card out of your wallet by waving the wallet instead if you have just one PayPass card.

Given that Paypass enabled blackberries have been trialled in Canada, even a paypass-enabled watch, then do we need the Telco providers heavily involved in an alternative? Nokia also has some devices such as the 6131 with the NFC (Near-Field-Communication) chip required for this, although interestingly it's not in not most of the high end N-series handsets. And realistically, there's a pretty good chance it'll be the next new thing on a future iPhone, and Apple will market it properly...

But I still don't get why we need the telcos ... shouldn't we just need appropriate apps from the banks to interact with the NFC chips?

I hope banks will take security more seriously than with SecureCode/VbV. Now, more importantly, where's that remote phone wipe application?

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