QuickTap users only need their phones for small purchases

Wallet-in-a-phone launched in UK

Barclaycard and Orange have launched an electronic wallet service that lets consumers use their mobiles to pay for goods.

They say this is the first contactless mobile payments service in the UKCalled Quick Tap, the app sits on the home screen of a Samsung Tocco handset and enables users to make retail purchases of up to £15 by tapping the phone on a contactless reader at participating tills.

Quick Tap payments will be accepted in over 50,000 stores, such as Wilkinson, food brands Pret-a-Manger, EAT, Subway and McDonalds, as well as food outlets in Wembley Arena.

Barclaycard, Barclays Debit or Orange Credit Card users can transfer funds of up to £100 onto Quick Tap.

The app also contains information such as electronic statements, so users can manage their credit on the app itself or online. For added security, they can choose to enter a PIN before making each transaction.

The handsets and readers exchange information using encrypted NFC (near-field communications), building on existing contactless payment systems.

Contactless credit and debit cards were introduced in 2007 and there are now over 12.9 million in circulation, with 11.4 million issued by Barclays and Barclaycard.

Orange rival O2 is also working towards a contactless mobile payments service and has partnered with Wave Crest, FIS, Intelligent Environments and Visa Europe to get its O2 Money product into a mobile platform before the end of Q4 2011.

However, doubts remain in some quarters about the vulnerability of such ‘mobile wallet’ technology.

According to Phil Lieberman, CEO of information security provider Lieberman Software, some security issues facing payment-enabled phones have been ignored.

“Mobile wallet technology is a potentially serious security risk just waiting to happen,” Liebermann commented.

“Cyber-criminals must be laughing their socks off at the prospect of having millions of insecure smartphone users with electronic wallets waiting to be ripped off.”

Smartphones do not have access to the same level of security as company IT systems, he added, “and with large numbers of Apple iPhone users jailbreaking their handsets to escape network locks, it looks like that most flavours of smartphones will be susceptible to security faux pas for some time”.

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