UK charity Oxfam has followed Cancer Research it its own trial of near field communications (NFC) technology for mobile payments, allowing contributors to initiate a donation process by tapping their NFC enabled smartphone against posters hung in Oxfam shop windows.
Tapping will not trigger a payment, but send a pre-formatted SMS message to the users phone which would still need to be sent to process the donation. Oxfam will also issue NFC enabled wristbands and collecting tins to its street fundraisers which let donators access a short video showcasing the charity’s anti-poverty projects around the world.
Cancer Research trialled NFC in two of London shop windows in January 2015, though users had to employ contactless debit and credit cards rather than mobile phones to automatically process a £2 donation via a point of sale (PoS) terminal positioned directly behind the glass. Whilst neither project represents a large scale example, both at least show a willingness to experiment with NFC based mobile payments that have so far failed to attract much enthusiasm amongst UK retailers or end users.
Certainly NFC remains a niche, little used technology for the moment, with the QuickTap NFC service launched by Orange in partnership with Barclays scrapped in 2014 after launching three years earlier.
Two high profile NFC mobile payment services – Apple Pay and Google Wallet – have been slow to take off in the US so far, but may pave the way for broader international adoption if consumer mistrust of wireless technology to protect sensitive financial and identity details can be overcome and familiarisation with contactless payments grows (Apple Pay for iPhone 6 users is widely tipped for a UK launch this year).
Growing numbers of handsets and other devices now feature embedded NFC chips, but the technology will need much wider support from retailers, banks and credit card companies if it to ever to become the default method of contactless payments for mobile phone users.