Contactless payments coming to a flight near you

Panasonic is working with airlines to bring NFC technology to fliers interested in Wi-Fi or entertainment as they travel.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Panasonic has revealed talks with major payment providers and airlines to bring contactless payments to your next flight.

Scrabbling for change or reaching over with a credit card to pay for services while you're in the sky can slow down attendants and annoy your in-flight neighbours, but if Panasonic has its way, near field communications (NFC) technology will be embedded within entertainment devices used on flights to streamline this process and potentially provide airlines with fresh revenue.

A recent study by Juniper research suggested that online, mobile and contactless payment transactions will reach a value of $3.6 trillion in 2016, a 20 percent surge from 2015.

In the UK, it's common for contactless payments to be accepted at many outlets -- although in the US, signatures and PINs are still the most frequently used way to pay -- but as this uptake increases, Panasonic would like a slice of the pie.

The use of NFC technology in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems is currently unheard of, but there is no reason this revenue stream could not be exploited in providing Wi-FI and premium content to frequent fliers.

On Tuesday, Panasonic revealed talks are ongoing with major credit card providers such as Visa and China Union Pay to implement the firm's NFC reader in in-seat entertainment systems.

The reader will be used not only for customer products and services such as Wi-Fi and entertainment content but will also be able to use flier data to push forward frequent flier bonuses, promotions and benefits. In addition, the Japanese firm plans to harness the technology for crew check-in and out systems.

The company has already signed up MasterCard to the scheme and has also opened up discussions with Discover and American Express. Panasonic hopes to gain regulatory approval to bring NFC readers to flights in the coming months.

Paul Margis, President and Panasonic Avionics CEO said:

"For airlines, EMV payments on IFE platforms should help eliminate potential transaction liabilities that they face today. In addition, passengers will be able to synchronize their own trusted token to the IFE system and create unique "just-for-me" experiences without compromising any of the personal data stored on their own device."

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