Contactless Payments Coming To Mobile Phones

Dennis Faas's picture

A Microsoft manager has revealed that the latest Windows Phone system already includes support for "contactless" smartphone payments in stores. However, there remain serious questions about the system's security status, which is still being worked on.

Electronic Payments Make Transactions Quicker

NFC is a form of wireless communication that works very much like Bluetooth and WiFi, but only over a much shorter distance (as little as a few centimeters). One of its primary uses could be to make electronic payments in stores without swiping a card.

Although technically NFC payments are contactless and work by the phone being swiped near a sensor, some early trials used the slogan "bump to pay" to help remind users to bring their phones close enough to be detected.

Currently, a form of NFC is in use by the Museum of London, where visitors can download information about a display directly to their phone.

Will Coleman, product manager for Microsoft in the UK, says that NFC (Near-Field Communications) is supported by Windows Phone but needs to be enabled by the manufacturer, which it currently is not. (Source:

Both Google, Apple Working On Solutions

NFC requires a special chip in a phone, along with support from the operating system itself.

There's been something of a race among phone companies to include the feature: the latest edition of Google's Android operating system includes NFC support, as does the forthcoming Galaxy Nexus.

Meanwhile, NFC was surprisingly absent from the recent iPhone 4S, which is one of the reasons some analysts believe a more fully-featured iPhone 5 may soon appear.

One reason manufacturers haven't yet taken advantage of NFC on Windows Phone is that the version on the Microsoft system may not yet support the secure communications which people demand before using devices for mobile payments.

This doesn't necessarily preclude manufacturers from including NFC chips in upcoming Windows phones, because there are many other uses for the technology. One is to allow users to share contact information or even photos and videos simply by placing two phones together.

There's even a rumor Microsoft will call this technology "beaming", an interesting choice given the same feature in the new Google system is known as "Android Beam". (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet