Barclays takes credit for contactless payment card first

Barclays has beaten its banking rivals to release the first contactless payment debit card that puts RFID-based near-field communication (NFC) technology into the hands of consumers for the first time

New VISA debit cards rolling out this month include additional functionality that enables them to make transactions of up to £10 when held close to a compatible point-of-sale reader, without the need to be inserted into a terminal or input a PIN.

The RFID functionality has been built into the cards’ core silicon, and they work normally for standard chip-and-pin transactions and cash machine functions. The NFD technology was developed by Barclays with Netherlands-based digital security specialist Gemalto.

Up to 3m of the Barclay’s customers are set to be using contactless debit cards by the end of this year, and most of its debit card customers will have contactless cards by 2011, the bank claims.

There number of contactless transactions that the card will allow before forcing a chip and PIN transaction is limited, to ensure that the card is in the cardholder's possession; however, any time the PIN is used it will reset the limit.

“The limit is linked to a combination of value and volume of transactions, and not to time,” says Barclays head of credit cards Brian Cunnington. “[In terms of security] we have added additional transaction monitoring to the chip, and increased the anti-cloning security technology.”

The new cards feature the Visa ‘wave’ contactless payment symbol that represents, and that will also be on display at compatible retailers. Barclays says that around 8,000 UK retailers accept contactless payment.

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