Mobile phone network O2 has launched the UK’s first pilot of a system that allows people to pay for goods and Tube journeys on their mobile phone.
Called the O2 Wallet, the device allows consumers to make a range of cashless payments for public transport and goods costing less than £10 by swiping their mobile phone on a reader.
The London-based trial, which involves more than 500 selected O2 customers, began yesterday and is running for six months until the end of May 2008. If the trial is successful, the system could be launched more widely by the end of 2008.
The system uses technology known as Near Field Communications (NFC) to allow users to make contactless payments.
Each trialist will get a Nokia 6131 NFC handset installed with the O2 Wallet, which will hold a ‘virtual’ Oyster travelcard and a Barclaycard debit card. However, if someone wants to top up their Oyster card, they won’t be able to use the handset’s Barclaycard function to do it.
As well as making payments, the triallists will be able to use the phones to check available funds and to locate shops close to them that accept contactless payments, including Books Etc, Coffee Republic, EAT, Krispy Kreme, Threshers and Yo! Sushi.
The partners involved in the trial, including Transport for London, Barclaycard, Visa Europe, and Nokia, moved to allay fears over the security of the phone.
Barclaycard said it would remain liable for any fraudulent purchases on the phone, while O2 and Nokia stressed that security features would be added, including a Pin number.
The companies are also running a single helpline number to call if the phone is lost or stolen.
Cath Keers, Customer Director, O2 UK, said the trial will look at ease of use, security and overall usefulness.
She added: ‘This trial is going to provide insights which will prove crucial to getting the customer experience right as we bring NFC on mobile to market. But the trial is just the start of this journey. If we get this right we can place the UK at the forefront of technology innovation.’