Orange and Barclays unveil Quick Tap mobile wallet

The scheme will let people with a Barclays account and Orange's Samsung Tocco Quick Tap phone use the handset to make low-value purchases, with the transaction using built-in NFC technology

Orange and Barclaycard have introduced the first mobile wallet scheme in the UK, making it possible for people with a certain handset to use the device to pay for low-value items.

Samsung Tocco Quick Tap phone

Orange and Barclaycard have introduced the Samsung Tocco Quick Tap, which can make contactless payments via an NFC chip. Photo credit: Orange

The Quick Tap scheme, announced on Friday, is launching with the Samsung Tocco Quick Tap, a £60 version of the Tocco Lite. The handset has a near-field communication (NFC) chip inserted, allowing it to be used in much the same way as a contactless bank card. Other compatible handsets will follow, the companies said.

Once Quick Tap users transfer funds onto a special app on the handset, they can then use the phone to make payments of £15 or less. The app also provides electronic statements.

This is the first time that customers can use their mobile to pay for goods and services in shops across the UK.

– David Chan, Barclaycard

"This is the first time that customers can use their mobile to pay for goods and services in shops across the UK rather than using cards or cash," David Chan, Barclaycard Consumer Europe chief, said in a statement. "Having a wallet on my phone has made it much more convenient to make purchases on the move and I like that it allows me to keep track of what I'm spending as I go."

People who want to use the service will have to be customers of Barclays as well as Orange, unless they have an Orange credit card.

Payments will be accepted anywhere that displays the contactless payment sign. This encompasses Wembley Arena and 50,000 stores around the country, including branches of McDonalds, Pret A Manger, EAT, Little Chef, Wilkinson and Subway.

Orange is not the only mobile operator with designs on the mobile wallet market — rival O2 is planning to launch its own service in the second half of the year. Vodafone and T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom has also indicated its intention to follow suit.

NFC chips

Such schemes rely on NFC chips, which are starting to be built into handsets such as the Tocco Quick Tap, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Google's Nexus S at fairly low cost.

Guillermo Escofet, a senior analyst at Informa, said in a statement that it would be a while before a wide choice of NFC-enabled handsets becomes available.

"The wrangling continues among the various would-be value chain members over where the secure element needed to enable contactless payments should sit in handsets, and there is still a long way to go to convince the bulk of retailers of the business case of replacing their point-of-sale terminals with NFC-enabled terminals capable of reading NFC cards/mobile phones," Escofet said.

Orange and Barclaycard's scheme will give customers the option of having to enter a PIN to authorise transactions. The system uses "secure SIM-based approach to mobile payments, providing a single point of contact for customer care as well as ensuring enhanced payment security for customers", Orange said.

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