Two banks within the RBS banking conglomerate – RBS and NatWest – have announced the launch of a special cover which, when slipped over an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s, facilitates the making of cashless, contactless payments.
The cover, which functions in conjunction with an accompanying app, makes use of near field communication (NFC) technology to allow users to wave their iPhone over an appropriate sales point and register payments for goods retailing up to the value of £20.
NFC – which uses radio waves transmitted between a mobile device and a specially configured retail point to register such contactless purchases – is viewed by many in the consumer finance sector as a potentially explosive future complement to credit or charge cards.
Having only very recently been introduced on to the market, Apple’s iPhone 4 reportedly surprised many commentators in not having NFC capability already built in.
The RBS scheme – which has been branded ‘TouchPay’ – is being carried out in association with Visa Europe.
Commenting on her organisation’s undertaking in the project, Visa Europe’s Senior Vice President and head of mobile, Sandra Alzetta, said:
“A key industry challenge in bringing mobile contactless payments to consumers is finding a way to enable existing smartphones that do not offer NFC technology. Services like TouchPay show how NFC-enabled accessories for smartphones can deliver the future of payments today and help hasten mainstream adoption.”
TouchPay is initially being offered on a pilot basis, but is expected to be extended to all iPhone-owning NatWest and RBS customers in the near future.