As London officials gear up for a "contactless" Olympic Games this summer, industry analysts report that the public's lack of awareness about new credit card technology could hamper its adoption. According to a YouGov study, fewer than 1 in 10 Britons knew they could use contactless credit cards or NFC-enabled smartphones to pay for meals at McDonald's. Only 20 percent of cardholders in the survey have ever used contactless payment tools, with just 5 percent of respondents reporting that they "tap and go" at least once per week.
According to Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson, most consumers will probably experience NFC technology on the subway or in their offices long before they use a contactless credit card. Writing on his corporate blog, Husson remarks that many companies already use NFC for internal security or external marketing purposes, while public transit officials have started replacing tokens with contactless ride cards. Husson writes that NFC offers marketers an extraordinary opportunity to "enable consumers to interact with the environment around them," especially with applications that don't require Internet access.
Alternative B2B payment system uses credit card images
Advocates of mobile phone NFC tools point out the platform's flexibility for business-to-business applications. Because remote servers can adjust a user's account information on the fly, an accounts payable department can issue employees access to business credit cards without revealing account numbers. After making an authorized purchase, administrators can curtail a user's spending privileges. However, analysts at the Yankee Group point out that NFC point-of-sale devices may not reach most of Main Street America until 2014 or beyond.
In the meantime, one B2B payment solutions vendor aims to fill that gap with a solution that prioritizes convenience over security. At the most recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, CSI GlobalVCard unveiled an accounts payable system that loads a single-use, prepaid debit card with the value for an approved company purchase.
The system emails the purchaser a digital image of the card, complete with account number, expiration date, and security code. While emailing credit card images isn't secure, users can quickly use their approved amount with nearly any website or vendor. Company spokeswoman Erica Santiago told InformationWeek that her company's virtual credit card solution guaranteed compatibility within companies that have just started to deploy NFC-capable smartphones.