Wireless smartphone payments needn’t be complicated is the message UK bank Barclays is pushing today, eschewing integrated NFC with PayTag, a contactless payments sticker. Intended to be slapped on the back of your phone, the PayTag is basically the same technology as already in some credit cards, turning any phone – no matter how aged – into a digital wallet.
The stickers will be offered at no charge to existing BarclayCard customers, and initially support individual payments of up to £15 ($24), rising to £20 ($32) this June. Approximately a third of the size of a credit card, Barclays warns the sticker is particularly, well, sticky: there’s no telling what gunk it might leave when you yank it off, though the bank says it’s not intended to be reused and that it will instead issue a new one when you upgrade your phone.
Waitrose, Boots, Tesco, Subway, McDonald’s, Pret and other locations are all supporting wireless payments today, and Barclay’s predicts over 150,000 contactless readers across the UK by the end of the year.
It’s not Barclay’s first encounter with wireless payments, mind. The bank partnered with Orange UK to launch Orange Quick Tap last year, a phone-based NFC system. Quick Tap was limited to only one device – an uninspiring Samsung featurephone – whereas PayTag will work with any handset; however, Quick Tap also showed current balance and other details on-screen during transactions, something a simple sticker cannot do.
Barclays will offer PayTag to a trial group of customers over the next few weeks. A full roll-out of the scheme is expected to take place later in 2012.