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Do you believe in NFC?

I ‘ve been talking
about contactless for years now  - I remember talking about the Octopus card
system about ten years ago after it launched in Hong Kong in 1997 – and still find it surprising how invisible
it is.

Sure it got some
coverage at the Olympics but some, like Forrester,
reckon that NFC mobile payments will not reach critical mass until 2020.  Others, like me, say that this
technology is already past its sell-by date,
although I am open to persuasion.


In order to persuade
me, Barclaycard sent me their latest research promoting the fact that everyone
in Britain knows what contactless is all about.

Apparently 84% of
us know what the symbol to the right means.

Yes, it's free wifi!

No, not really.  It's the contactless payment symbol.

The fact that 84% of people recognise the logo has Barclaycard cockahoop as that’s nearly doubled the number from last year (44%) and is way up on 2010 when only 28% of
people recognised the   contactless symbol.

  The other big news
breaking is that Barclaycard is now processing over one million contactless
transactions per month.

To put the million
transactions-a-month into perspective it took almost 40 years from the first
credit card launch for spending on plastic cards to overtake cash in the
UK.  That means that achieving a million
contactless transactions a month in only five years is a significant milestone.

The other
interesting stat is that three-quarters of those surveyed had no idea that
contactless payments are treated the same as any card payment and insured
against fraud.  This may be a barrier to overcome
as people inherently think contactless is insecure, but it is not therefore.

By way of example,
once folks knew that the transactions are insured against fraud, four out of
ten people said they would be more likely to make contactless payments and less
than one in ten had any remaining concerns.

A few other stats
Barclaycard shared:

  • There are over 19 million
    contactless-enabled Barclaycards and Barclays debit cards.
  • There
    are over 100,000 point-of-sale terminals that accept contactless payments in
    the UK, with the aim to raise that to over 150,000 by the end of the year.
  • Key
    retail partners include Waitrose, McDonalds, Boots and Tesco.


About the Research

Populus conducted
a poll of 2,026 UK adults on 8th and 9th August, 2012 covering a representative
sample across all of the UK.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Chris – my view is that there will likely be a place for NFC in the mix but the cloud-based/software driven m-payment systems are for more interesting in terms of the customer experience potential, are (largely) handset independent and therefore easier to adopt. Additionally, how easy will it be to support NFC from the increasing number of ipad-based POS implementations?
    And that doesn’t even start considering the inherent complexity of the NFC value chain when compared with most cloud-based systems.
    If simple = good (which it does) then NFC is already starting to look like an obsolete technology.

  • “Barclaycard is now processing over one million contactless transactions per month.”
    Just for comparison, could you remind us how many card transactions per month there are in the UK? (hint: 2 billion+ per quarter).

  • I absolutely believe that NFC is the way forward, purely from a convenience perspective. There are 2-3 things we wont leave the house with (nor will Gen Y) each and every day.
    1. House Keys
    2. Mobile Phone
    3. Wallet
    We can loose 3 to number 2 and its already happening. Its also much easier to swipe your phone than use an app of sorts. I guess it depends on the size of the transaction. Would you buy a car via NFC, no, a coffee – yes, your groceries, quite possibly.
    Im looking forward to it!