RBS launches mobile payment trial

UK banking giant Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has launched one of the UK’s first trials of mobile debit payment technology at its headquarters in Edinburgh, in what the bank says is a precursor to a public pilot, to be launched next year.

The bank’s staff will use Nokia phones enabled with short-range wireless Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and MasterCard’s ‘wave and pay’ PayPass contactless technology, in order to make cashless transactions valuing £10 or less. Users simply swipe their handset against an NFC-enabled point of sale terminal in order to automatically debit their current account.

RBS has long-been an innovator in contactless technology, having been the first bank in the UK to trial contactless payment cards in 2006, using MasterCard’s PayPass technology embedded in EMV chip-and-PIN cards.

The mobile payment trial will last through to the end of December, leading into a public trial in 2008.

Mobile payment technology is rapidly taking off throughout Europe, with more than 100 trials currently in operation, according to telecoms provider Orange.

By enabling a handset with NFC technology the user is able to deploy their mobile phone in a number of different contexts for a variety of tasks. Manchester City Football Club is due to launch a trial in which the handset will act effectively as a ticket, allowing fans quicker entry to the stadium.

Dave Wentker, vice president of mobile innovations at credit card issuer Visa – which is currently responsible for several major mobile payment trials throughout the globe – told Information Age that NFC technology represents a major breakthrough, and should enable the mass adoption of mobile contactless payments where other technology has historically failed.

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Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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