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back to article M&S shoppers make quarter of a million NFC payments a WEEK

Posh retailer Marks & Spencer is accepting nearly a quarter of a million contactless payments a week, with a bonk of plastic replacing the rattle of coins. At M&S Finsbury Pavement (it's a London street, not a food-enabled paving slab) one in three payments under £20 are contactless these days, as shoppers save valuable seconds …

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M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

Oh, my. The marketards seem to be winning in the UK.

In my mind, Marks&Sparks is more along the lines of K-Mart or Wall-Mart here in the States, catering to the lowest common denominator ...

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Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

That's because they can't charge a premium while they are trying to break into a new market.

Over here, M&S ARE high end because they are an established name that can charge a bloody fortune. Their goods are undeniably higher quality as well*, it's not just a marketing thing.

*Whether or not that the quality increase is worth the price jump is subject to opinion

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Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

"Over here, M&S ARE high end because they are an established name that can charge a bloody fortune."

That doesn't make any sense at all. I purchase quality goods, not brand names.

"Their goods are undeniably higher quality as well*, it's not just a marketing thing."

Higher quality than WHAT, exactly? I've shopped at M&S in the UK, and at *-mart here in the US. They are pretty much identical, on a world stage.

"*Whether or not that the quality increase is worth the price jump is subject to opinion"

And yet you shop there anyway? Why?

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Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

I am sorry if you work there or have shares, but the quality in M & S has been on the slide for years, clothes, food and the rest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

@Jake: Obvious troll is obvious troll. Don't you have anything better to do, like work on some of your massive yachts, or go out on the ranch in one of your many cars, etc. etc.

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@AC 08:46 (was: Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?)

Not a troll. Rather, a world traveler and a realist.

One wonders about your interest in me, though ... Do you have a life?

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Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

Higher quality than WHAT, exactly? I've shopped at M&S in the UK, and at *-mart here in the US. They are pretty much identical, on a world stage.

I've shopped in US "chain supermarkets" and on the whole anything in the UK is higher quality for food (meat and especially chicken in particular). On clothing side I seem to think I considered M&S to probably above Sears level and approaching Macy's. I definitely not put them in the same level as Wallmart.

That said, M&S can be a bit delusional at time. Remember after returning to the UK read an article about how M&S had sent a team out to look at US supermarkets and there were gushing comments about the amazing standards and varieties available in the US store they had just visited .... however, they'd chosen to go to Draegers in Los Altos (chain of 2 stores in top-end Silicon valley settings ... so had $200 bottles of olive oil on the shelf etc when we occassionally visited) ... rather like someone from the US commenting on the food stores in the UK on the basis of visiting Fortnum and Masons!

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Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

"On clothing side I seem to think I considered M&S to probably above Sears level and approaching Macy's. I definitely not put them in the same level as Wallmart."

As far as clothing goes, they all sell the same exact stuff, made in the exact same sweatshops. Anybody who thinks otherwise is deluded.

Draegers is a couple of grocery stores (the other is in Menlo Park), not a department store. Locals actually shop there for food, on a daily basis. Prices aren't all that bad (for SillyConValley) ... unless you're looking for high-end protein. Me, I'd rather kill my own wild boar & raise my own ducks ...

Fortnum & Masons is a high-priced kitschy tourist trap leftover from the Victorian era, at best. That's why the Japanese love it so much :-)

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Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

"That doesn't make any sense at all. I purchase quality goods, not brand names."

So do I. My point is, high prices = high end, regardless of brand name.

"Higher quality than WHAT, exactly?"

Than other UK supermarkets selling similar goods.

""*Whether or not that the quality increase is worth the price jump is subject to opinion"

And yet you shop there anyway? Why?"

I never said I did. My opinion is that most of their ranges are overpriced, but I go in now and again for a look. I do occasionally buy jackets or shoes there because I find their kit highly durable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

In my mind, Marks&Sparks is more along the lines of K-Mart or Wall-Mart here in the States, catering to the lowest common denominator

Careful here jake, I know you think you are making some amusing jape about a clothing store, but you seemingly have no clue. M&S is the home of the aspirational middle class. It is a mark of quality - but not too much quality, we have John Lewis for that - and of reassuringly expensive goods - but again, not too expensive, we have Harvey Nichols for that.

Saying M&S is like K-Mart - a fucking discount store - is fighting talk, and just shows you have no clue what you are talking about, regardless of the fact that you once went to M&S in the 80s.

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Re:Their goods are undeniably higher quality as well*

I deny that

. £5 for two baking spuds.... right....oh, they've been washed so the help doesn't have to... ok then!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 08:46 (was: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?)

" a world traveler "

What are you trying to imply?

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Re: spuds

> £5 for two baking spuds

Eh? They're about £1.75 a kilo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 08:46 (was: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?)

That he knows how to use google maps

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Facepalm

Re: M & S considered "posh" and "high end"?

"As far as clothing goes, they all sell the same exact stuff, made in the exact same sweatshops. Anybody who thinks otherwise is deluded."

Jake; You obviously know nothing about sweatshops. My wife was a buyer of jeans from Chinese sweatshops and the way it works is that when ordering for example 5000 pairs you agree with the sweatshop on every detail; quality of fabrics (cheapest thread, thin fabric to durable more expensive options), type of stitching, brand and type of zip (noname cheap, lasts for a week or various other options of increasing quality, price and brand), etc..

Basically two companies can order completely different quality clothing from the same sweatshop. It all depends on what their budget and requirements are.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "world traveller"

This probably has a similar meaning for jake as 'World Series'.

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just the bits

It's because no-one does all their shopping there, just the bits.

(c) Mighty Boosh

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Anonymous Coward

What an un-informed and indeed ignorant comment - presumably from an American who has obviously never visted an M&S store. Perhaps when he has found out how to spell "Walmart" he should visit London and take a look for himself. I expect though he won't like the range of goods offered by M&S since they do not have the "hunting,shooting and fishing" section like Walmart where they offer an amazing range of weapons and ammunition (including soft-nosed "dum-dum" bullets) which anyone can buy on production of a driving licence.

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Anonymous Coward

Is that a lot?

230,000 transactions per week.

Say around 700 stores (store locator website: "We have over 700 stores located throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland")

Most stores open 7 days?

47 transactions per store per day. Maybe 5 per hour.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is that a lot?

I suspect you'll find that the transactions are clustered just before work, lunch and just after work, when people pick up food. You won't get much in the way of clothing from M&S for NFC payments as they're limited to £15-20 depending upon the card.

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I use NFC at M&S all the time

Really useful when buying sandwiches etc. Never thought I'd like it but its just so damn convenient (even more so than cash). Just wished more stores supported it!

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Re: I use NFC at M&S all the time

It is! Now if only they can make the printers faster, it'd be even better (for those of us who need receipts)

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Stop

NFC is great

But.... the bloody machine's never work properly, I'm looking at early adopters like EAT, Pret, etc, the more recent machines seem a lot more reliable, very handy for small rounds in pubs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NFC is great

I find the ones in M&S work fine, but the early ones in Pret were a right old pain, because you had to actually tell the person at the counter that you were using a card payment, they then had to do something to the PED and enable the card reader, it took at least as long as a chip and pin transaction, which made it a bit useless. This is now changing, thankfully.

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FAIL

Really?

The security issue is that someone can steal my card and use it without knowing my pin number or anything. It's not using it I object to, it's having a physical card that simple possession of lets people take money from my bank account that I object to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

In a lab you can only get NFC to work over about 20cm. I have tried with my phone and various cards and I can't get more than 1cm and this requires specific orientation.

The card will only allow a few transactions to occur before asking for a PIN, this usually isn't seen as successfully using the card in an ATM or chip and PIN PED resets the count.

Random people, even if they could get a card reader near enough to your card without arousing suspicion, can't take money from your card because they don't work like that. In order to get money from an NFC card you have to have a merchant account, which means that the bank know who you are, where you live and have approved your business plan.

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FAIL

Re: Really?

Fine, they can't "take money from his account"

They can, however, purchase goods using funds in his account

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

Yes, in the same way that they would be able to spend the cash in his wallet, had they stolen that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

I could steal your wallet, spend the cash in it and you'd have no recourse.

You can only make a certain number (decided by the card issuer) of contactless transactions before it asks for a PIN, so after 3, maybe 4 uses whoever has the card will be asked for the PIN.

Of course, you'll have already told your bank that you've lost the card and you won't be liable for the fraudulent use. Oh and take off that tinfoil hat.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

Just to clarify one "small" point... this has NOTHING to do with NFC...which is a mobile phone based technology. The transactions mentioned by M&S are using contactless technology indeed but they are most likely "tap&go" EMV transactions made using a "new generation" of smart debit and credit cards. Roughly 30 millions of these babies have been issued by banks to their customers in the UK to date I believe.

Should I start saying that my TV remote control is "NFC" too? After all it is contactless as well :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

The technology in cards which allows them to operate is NFC, it's not limited to mobile phones. Here is a primer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_Field_Communication

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Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

NFC is a suprisingly ubiquitous standard. Your phone can pay-by-bonk for the same reason that your credit card can, and can be read by the same equipment that Oyster uses and that "MiFare" based access control does.

Want a demo? Come to my workplace, where the Mifare card readers we use for access control have my Oyster card and pre-pay "NFC" pay-by-bonk credit card lined up on the system as additional cards for me (we present them to the reader, it reads the data off, and we mark that data as a "valid" card for access for myself). Very useful when I forget my access card, I just doink my Oyster or my credit card and the doors open just the same.

Additionally, I have an earlier post about our confusion over a constantly-changing number appearing on our access control. Turns out someone was holding a Galaxy S4 with NFC pay-by-bonk enabled on it when they entered the building. Every doink you get a unique set of data, over the EXACT SAME protocol as all the above. We couldn't use it for access control because it changes all the time, and the user pay-by-bonked for their train journeys, so we advised them to put it in their pocket before they clock in.

It's ALL the same technology. And the readers aren't even very expensive. Ask your access control people for Mifare readers, and then go tinker. (And, actually, we had a choice between "multi" readers that did everything and ones that only take Mifare - we have the "only Mifare" ones and they read data off all the above devices. So it's not even just that our access control does everything.).

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Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

My problem is that my oyster card, my company id card and my bank card all seem to use the same frequency, and therefore each one has to be in a separate wallet or pocket if I want to go on the tube (and have my wallet accepted by the gate).

Since we moved to NFC/RFID ID cards, the number of times I've forgotten my ID card has exploded. Before, I never used to forget it, as it was always in my wallet and never moved.

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Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

Check your sources (Wikipedia is not infallible) and read carefully the articles you point to before posting a comment mate. Unless of course you enjoy looking like a fool!. (Yes articles and specifications are meant to be read - incredible isn't it :-)

As the article you refer to clearly states: "Near field communication (NFC) is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters"

If you want to get technical, contactless EMV cards are based on the ISO1443 standard which predates by more than a decade NFC. NFC was coined in the early 2000's by NXP (at the time Philips Semiconductors), Sony and a few others.

In fact if you took the time to read the specifications you would notice that NFC actually relies on the ISO 1443 specification and not the other way around !

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Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

Lee, you are confusing the radio communication protocol (ISO 14443) which is common to all of these cards (and NFC devices) and the applications which are built on top of said protocol such as EMV payments or Oyster transactions....

Yes a basic contactless reader - such as those frequently used for access control can "recognize" an oyster card, an NFC phone or a contactless bank card.... because they all use the same low level communication protocol which (I am oversimplifying for the sake of brevity) requires each "device" to respond with a unique identifier.

But compatibility stops here.... your "cheap" readers cannot handle an EMV payment transaction, nor can the contactless bank card readers at Pret, Boots or M&S be used to top up your oyster card.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

"Come to my workplace, where the Mifare card readers we use for access control have my Oyster card and pre-pay "NFC" pay-by-bonk credit card lined up on the system as additional cards for me (we present them to the reader, it reads the data off, and we mark that data as a "valid" card for access for myself). Very useful when I forget my access card, I just doink my Oyster or my credit card and the doors open just the same."

Do the cards send an identical blob of data every time? And you just accept it verbatim as being the identity? That sounds eminently cloneable to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!

It may well be clonable, but what isn't clonable is the communications that go on after the initial "bosh" of data, which are en-to-end encrypted by the cryptoprocessors in the card and the PED.

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Coat

Why is my mind now thinking about bonking and M&S undies ...

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Anonymous Coward

"Why is my mind now thinking about bonking and M&S undies ..."

Hmmm, your not getting enough at home?

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Phone bonking

Am I right in thinking that you need some kind of secure SIM card to use your phone to pay-by-bonk? If that's right, do any operators in the UK supply them? I've got a vague recollection of some article somewhere saying that Orange France were playing with them but that was it. But like Manuel... I know nothing!

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Happy

You can buy food in M&S for under £20 ?

Blimey!

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Facepalm

Re: You can buy food in M&S for under £20 ?

err..

Dine in for two - ten pounds. Occasionally gets a mention on the telly box

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WTF?

Marks & Spencer take cards now?!??!

Shows how long it's been since I went in to one of their stores... I seem to recall walking out in disgust last time as they refused to take any kind of credit or debit card... (circa late 80s early 90s).

Interesting how market forces seem to persuade even the most militant technology luddites change their ideas.

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Re: Marks & Spencer take cards now?!??!

It was nothing to do with luddism - they thought the card acquirers were demanding an extortionate cut of the takings, so they were holding out for a better deal.

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FAIL

NFC in a handset allows the user to check their bank balance on demand

Like logging in to your internet banking on your phone (either via browser or app)?

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Meh

POS software needs fixing!

I use my contactless card where I can, for the majority of the time it's quicker. The only thing that annoys me is that for some POS systems it looks like the person at the till has to select my method of payment and they have an option of 'Card' or 'Contactless', I get my card out ready to wave it by the reader, they see my card and assume it's a normal chip and PIN transaction.

They get annoyed when I say I want to wave it and at that point it's quicker for me to just put my PIN in.

Subway's system lets the buyer choose either chip and PIN or contactless, M&S also gives you the choice. But places like Boots and Caffe Nero, the person at the till has to make the choice unless you say before hand, it's not very streamlined and even then there's not a lot of people behind the tills who seem to have heard of it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: POS software needs fixing!

"there's not a lot of people behind the tills who seem to have heard of it!"

Yeah! iPhone owners.

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Bronze badge

A few seconds?

Alternatively, they could save the same few seconds per customer by not giving change. That is, by pricing to round numbers. That is, you just take a coin/bill, hand it over, and walk away.

And don't pretend that everything is marked down to .99 to save you money. It's just as likely to be marked up to .99 to cost you money.

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