back to article Bonking payment by NFC doubled by Olympics splash

As an Olympics sponsor Visa used the London games to highlight pay-by-bonk technology, successfully doubling the number of contactless payments across the UK while taking a fifth of the transactions within the park. In the ten weeks leading up to the games the number of bonked payments doubled, hitting six times last year's …


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  1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Bonking apps

    Apple won't do a bonking app, only Google will - except Congress have told them off about ...err... congress

  2. Fuzz

    contactless payments

    contactless payments work well if they can speed up transactions to reduce the length of queues. I recently travelled on the M6 toll and you can now wave your card. This works well because it's slightly quicker than posting your card into the slot. If, however, you were to use your phone for this it would be far slower.

    1. unlock your phone

    2. load the NFC app

    3. choose the correct wallet

    4 enter a pin to unlock the wallet

    These are not steps you need to be doing when you're in a queue.

    Paying in shops doesn't work either currently because to pay with your card you have to tell the shop assistant that is what you want to do and wait whilst they tell the till you are paying by card and only then can you wave your card. The system needs to be

    1. shop keeper says that'll be £3.49 please

    2. customer waves card

    Until the system works like that it's a waste of time.

    1. AdamT

      Re: contactless payments

      Yes, re: the paying in shops bit. Even in shops where they default to allowing a card to be shoved in without the assistant doing anything you do still need to ask for contactless. So it's still quicker just to shove the card, type the pin and be gone.

    2. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: unlock your phone

      Surely most of that hassle is self-inflicted? Allow NFC to make small transactions without a pin, and set a default wallet. Then you shouldn't need to unlock your phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paying in shops

        Really? I've used a contactless card in McDonalds and Nero plenty of times and the wireless terminal always activates at the same time as the chip/pin one, i've never had to ask specificall to pay using contactless.

  3. Trygve

    whoop de frigging doo....

    So a million contactless a month after a couple of years of heavy pushing? Out of 805 million 'normal' transactions a month, that's not exactly impressive.

    I don't think I have ever seen someone buy anything with NFC.

    A couple of months ago I saw someone trying to pay for her coffee in Pret with her barclaycard, and it didn't work for some reason. When trying to figure out why, it emerged that she had never used NFC before, none of the staff had ever seen anyone use it, none of us other customers had ever seen anyone use it. So she paid with chip&pin. This in a high-footfall location next to London Victoria station which has had a contactless terminal by every till for a couple of years at least.

    1. skipper

      Re: whoop de frigging doo....

      Therein lies the problem, Visa can promote as much as they like, but if the vendors don't promote and support it, tis' doomed.

      I've used it twice...

      First time at Subways where the guy at the till said "Just slap it on there" when I went to pay by card. Quick and painless.

      Second time at Tesco's a few days later, where it took the till bod by suprise, and three or four attempts to succeed (had I not done it before I would have given up earlier - and I still double checked my statement to make sure I'd not been charged n times).

      Haven't bothered since then (3 -4 months ago), and probably won't until I see others using it with ease.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    So, basically..

    They finally increased usage by giving phones away with pre-loaded cash for people to use.

    Sounds like a sound business plan.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    NFC is a big security hole

    Apparently I can just hack into a Galaxy S3, upload executable code and steal the users's personal data by getting another S3 close to it (crowded train?)

    Not for me, thanks.

  6. Joseph Lord
    Black Helicopters

    I've done my best to disable mine

    Bank wouldn't give me a card without it so I've put cuts around the chip hopefully severing the antenna. Need to find a retailer to test it at though.

    I might trust it on a credit card where I can dispute payments before it gets to the real bank account but not on a debit/cash card. I don't particular trust retailer Chip and Pin machines and try not to use the debit card in them unless absolutely unavoidable (e.g. car purchase).

    1. MrXavia

      Re: I've done my best to disable mine

      Same here, I don't mind it on credit cards, but not my debit card, that only gets used to withdraw cash...

      I always use a credit card... since its much safer than a debit...

    2. ad47uk

      Re: I've done my best to disable mine

      Can you not change the amount of times you can use the card without it asking for your pin to 0, or one, in that way you should then always be asked to enter your pin when you use it.

      A mate of mine got a cerdit card with NFC and his bank refused to change it, so he had it changed so that it could never be used without it asking fro his pin.

      Bank was not happy about it, but they allowed him to do that.

      1. Joseph Lord
        Black Helicopters

        Re: I've done my best to disable mine

        That doesn't protect you from any security flaws or information leaks if devices you don't try to use connect with your card.

  7. JoeK76

    Actively discouraged

    In my experience, counter morons in outlets such as Pret or McDonalds actively discourage customers from paying contactless, by claiming the equipment doesn't work (when I fact it does, as I found out by insisting on paying contactless). Usually such claims are made in broken English as well.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take up would probably improve if there was actually any way to try this junk out. At the moment out it seems as though you have to be an Olympic athlete or an holder of a new branded to death orange s3. otherwise it's vapour ware. I do own an S3, just not branded.

    If i can temporarily turn the pin on and off I want to try this junk. Anything has to be better than risking things spilling out of my wallet in a crowd out people and leave me crawling air in between a sea of legs.

  9. Mog0

    In my experience the contactless terminals aren't marked as contactless

    The only place I've ever used contactless is McDonalds and that's only because I'd read online that they have it in all their stores. There is no contactless symbol on the terminal, which would be the obvious way of advertising its availability.

  10. Karl H

    I wonder

    I wonder when the prostitutes will offer payment via NFC credit / debit cards.

    A bonk for a bonk so to speak .

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A reason to buy an iPhone?

    I'm sure there will be plenty of downvotes but IMHO (and just celebrating 40 years since I wrote my first computer program on Punched Cards) having a phone with this feature is a disaster waiting to happen.

    When I am next looking around for a phone, those that don't have this will score higher than those that do.

    Yes I am an old dinosaur but strangely I prefer to pay cash for small purchases.

    Thus an iPhone 5 will be marked up relative to the Android (and possibly other) types that have it.

    And yes I know it can be disabled... but.... you never know some hacker might find a way to enable it again without you knowing.

    Yes I know that Apple are the devil incarnate along side Microsoft but I want something that works. My current phone (an HTC android POS) is next ti useless. If you think that the iPhone 4 had problems with calls then it is pure genius when compare to my phone. Even with 5 bars of signal strength 50% of the time incoming calls go straight to voicemail. And I've tried '3', Voda and Orange networks. No difference. HTC say the phone is fine.

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  13. G Thomas

    What a bunch of luddites!

    Well I have 3 NFC cards and think they are brilliant. Of course I have an Oyster card. My bus pass is also NFC. I buy my lattes and lunch almost every day in shops using my NFC debit card. The latter is, I suppose, the 'proper' NFC card with the little symbol on it. I got mine via the O2 Wallet system, the easiest way I found to get one without having to take out a new bank accout or get a new credit card. I can put as much or as little as I want on the card, I get a txt msg every time I use it telling me how much I have spent and how much I have left and of course there is a limit to the maximum you can spend in one transaction. Topping it up is fairly easy, although the O2 Wallet system requires me to remember 2 passwords, and my verified by visa password (so that's 3 passwords then) which is a bit OTT.

  14. ad47uk

    The banks don't seem to be giving NFC cards out anyway, i have not been given one, not that I want one to be honest.

  15. Atonnis

    I used NFC once...

    I made an NFC payment at McDonald's. It was a complete accident. I aimed for the slot and missed (reaching out of a car window) and the card swiped against the reader. I attempted a second slotting and the cashier just said 'ok, that's paid'.

    I was incensed. I hadn't set up anything for such payments and was shocked that such a payment was so easily done. Anyone could have used my card and I didn't even know it!

    I called Halifax and had the card replaced with one that didn't have the facility for such payments. I don't know if they still supply such cards, but I hope so. My card expires in a year.

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