back to article Mobes' pay-by-bonk just isn't cool enough, sniffs Tesco bod

Tesco reckons contact-less pay-by-wave technology in phones has had its day - and the shopping giant is moving back to relying on cash and traditional payment cards. The stumbling shelf-stacking titan will continue to punt its customer loyalty schemes and vouchers on smartmobes - but bonking NFC-capable devices against tills …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The kids won't use it??? WTF

    Have you seen the young people of 2013?

    These are the one who are continually checking their phones for FB entries and Tweets. The frigging things (phones that is) never leaves their hands for more than a few seconds.

    As they have the thing in their hand why does Tesco (who denied me a clubcard btw) think that they won't use is have to put the phone down for a second and find a bit of plastic or even worse cash?

    Like the layout of my local Tesco store, they must have been living on the planet Zog for the last decade or so,

    1. Andy Mc

      Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

      Wow, that's impressive! You must be seriously undesirable to get refused a clubcard!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

        Yeah, I didn't have any credit history. Why? I own my own house, no mortgage and I don't owe any money on my credit cards.

        To give Tesco credit they did explain this to me after a little pressure esp when I said that Amex had just given me a Black Amex card. (yeah, I'm a filth IT contractor who is rolling in it, not, my ex takes a good share of my income)

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

          I think you may be confusing products. A club card is a simple store loyalty card. It provides you with no credit, it's simply a tracking mechanism for your purchases. They give them to anyone over 18 with a pulse (and the 18 year old limit is purely down to UK law).

          1. Velv Silver badge

            Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF


            Actually you'll find that Tesco Bank supply a Clubcard Credit Card, with the same card being the loyalty card and a normal Visa/Mastercard (can't remember which).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

            A clubcard application involves a credit check. My Experian report told me that at the time.

            As I don't shop there very often (full of screaming children even in the middle of the night) for an old codger like me!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

      Probably because most people use 2 hand whilst shopping (one to carry/push and one to grab stuff), and let's be honest, how many kids shop at Tesco's anyway. Also, you need to get your loyalty card out when at the till (or so they want) so you'll be in your wallet purse anyway.

      The other point is that pay-by-bonk is only supposed to be for transactions up to £10 (or whatever), and I don't know many people who have shopping bills in that range, unless they are only in there to grab 4 pints of milk, so that also reduces the scope of its effectiveness.

      So I can see their point about it not having much mileage, and it's their call at the end of the day I guess.

      1. CraPo

        Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

        "Also, you need to get your loyalty card out when at the till (or so they want) so you'll be in your wallet purse anyway."

        Not necessarily. Tesco's do a loyalty card app where the barcode is displayed on the screen for scanning.

    3. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: who denied me a clubcard btw...

      Your ideas intrigue me sir, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

    4. JDX Gold badge

      Re: The kids won't use it??? WTF

      How often do you see people paying with their phones? I never saw anyone... barely see anyone using NFC on their CC either although it's handy in MCDonald since small payments need no pin.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NFC payment is pretty crap....

    ...the amount of times I've been behind someone dicking around trying to get it to work is just mad. And really, how hard is it to Insert card, type PIN, remove card.

    It has some uses, but for payment in a shop, hardly worth the effort.

    1. Harvey Trowell

      Re: NFC payment is pretty crap....

      They're probably first time users getting the hang of it. I like using NFC because it means I can buy a sandwich in Eat without having to prod the keypad after all you nose-picking buttscratchers have had a crack at it. Dr Cooper would approve.

      1. Steven Roper

        @ Harvey Trowell

        "...having to prod the keypad after all you nose-picking buttscratchers have had a crack at it."

        You reminded me of a study some uni students did in my town a few years ago. They took samples from ATM keypads around the city and did some forensic testing. Among the substances they found on the keypads were traces of:

        Saliva and nasal mucus (there's your nosepickers);

        Human, cat, dog, bird and rodent urine and faeces (there's your buttscratchers);

        Coffee, fruit juice and soft drinks;

        Assorted sauces, meat and vegetable food products in various states of decay;

        Human skin (natch), blood and internal organ tissue(!?);

        About the same quantity and species of bacteria per square cm as found on an average public toilet seat;

        And I've saved the best for last: They found traces of human, BULL and PIG SEMEN on the keypads. Somewhere in my city, there are pig and cow fuckers going around using our ATMs (probably farmers having done artificial insemination, but I can't speak for their hygiene!) As to the human semen, the less said the better...

        Mine's the one with the disposable surgical gloves in the pocket.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Taking a card out of my wallet is ... quicker than loading a phone app

          Isn't the point that you don't have to load an app?

    2. Bill B

      Re: NFC payment is pretty crap....

      Both M&S and Boots at my local station use pay by bonk on a card and it IS a lot faster than paying by cash or card (unless you have the exact change). It's the sort of thing that is valuable in store that deals in lunchtime traffic or 'buying something for supper tonight' because it speeds up the process so much.

      Pity our local Tesco Metro doesn't have it. I suppose they are just a bit behind the times.

      1. Tom Wood

        Re: NFC payment is pretty crap....

        Yup, pay by bonk by card works nicely in M&S at motorway services, WH Smith self checkouts at the station, etc. If you're buying lunch or a paper or whatever it really is quick, no need for a PIN or fumbling for change.

        I wish all self checkouts accepted pay by bonk cards, and since in general they're used for smallish grab-and-go type transactions I'd have thought they would get good use of the tech.

        But yeah, no idea why I'd want to faff about with my phone to pay. Taking a card out of my wallet is always going to be quicker than loading a phone app etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NFC payment is pretty crap....

      It's not clear why "no PIN" is conflated with "no contact". For small transactions, why not use the existing infrastructure? Insert your card and remove your card. Job done.

      Bonking was convenient when Oyster was the only system that used it, but now I have to get my card out of my wallet anyway.

      1. M Gale

        Re: It's not clear why "no PIN" is conflated with "no contact".

        This. Exactly this.

        Why in fuck can't I just have my chip and PIN card made to work without a PIN on payments below £15, should I choose to enable that fucking great big security hole?

        As-is, if I end up with an NFC thing and don't pre-emptively drill the damned chip out, it means that any smackhead who gets the card can buy as many instances of £10-£15 stuff as they like before the card gets cancelled.. a sort of Trainspotting version of a Supermarket Sweep if you like.. sell it for £2.50 at the pub and be off to a date with a cotton wool blanket on my coin.

        But hey, it's convenient.

  3. eSeM

    NFC Payments ..... if only

    I have had phones that support NFC for the past 2 years but I have not yet found a way to use them to make NFC payments.

    There are so few phones and apps that will currently support NFC and and this will probably continue until the big corporations stop squabbling about who is going to make the money from them.

    I already use my Visa card to bonk at Tesco and McDs but will use NFC from my phone as soon as I can get it set up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NFC Payments ..... if only

      Remind me to stand next to you if we're ever on the same crammed tube train :-)

    2. 63074782

      Re: NFC Payments ..... if only

      I am also waiting for this tech to become popular in Hong Kong, so that I won't be that helpless even if I forgot my wallet.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do you know we don't like it if its not available

    I might be missing something but as far as I can tell mobile NFC payments are only available if you signup with Orange on a particular subset of mobiles. How is that a test of whether people want to use something. Personally I think it sounds like a great idea but I not something on which I want to base my choice of telco and mobile phone. Perhaps when it is more widely available there will be a higher uptake.

  5. Craigness

    Who knows how to use it?

    Shortly after getting an NFC-enabled phone I noticed the Contactless icon on a Tesco self-service till as I reached instinctively for the Cash option. When I got home I looked on their website to see if I need an app etc to make contactless payments, but they don't seem to have any information at all. So I still pay by cash.

    As mentioned above, if you need to get your clubcard out then cash or a credit card is likely to be in your hand already. But if the clubcard is linked to your phone then contactless is even more convenient.

  6. Simon Rockman

    Two years

    That's how long it will be until the mobile industry falls out of love with NFC. It will not be $50bn of transactions Franco Bernabè forecast at MWC2012

    (, It's the next UMA, or Push To Talk, a fad the operators think they want until they find out that consumers don't and then the next shiny thing comes along.

    When the operators stop wanting it - that is paying the manufacturers to put it in - new models will stop having it. And the banks will say "what happened there".

    If Tesco which is a retailer, and a bank and a mobile phone network can's see the point, who can?

  7. DJO Silver badge

    Revolutionary small payment method

    I've had a great idea for small payments, some sort of token, perhaps a selection of metal discs for values up to a couple of quid and some sort of hard to duplicate paper jobbie for higher values.

    No, sorry, stupid idea, it'd never catch on.

    1. Bill B

      Re: Revolutionary small payment method

      I agree .. stupid idea. I mean, there's always the danger that all you have in your pocket is a lot of small metal discs of various types and you then have to get each one out individually and inspect it closely before handing it over in payment.

      At least .. that's what the short sighted arthritic granny in the queue in front of me was doing yesterday.

      1. Circadian

        Re: Revolutionary small payment method

        @Bill B

        you, sir, are a cunt.

        Hopefully you will survive long enough to "enjoy" the effects of old age described above and maybe realise a bit of patience is required at times.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Revolutionary small payment method

          @circadian. bravo .. Pity I can only upvote once ..we definitely need more class around here ..

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: Revolutionary small payment method

            Don't be silly. He has such an important life, those 20s could be used posting a sarcastic comment on the internet. People need to live more relaxed lives...

  8. Blergh
    Paris Hilton

    Why does it have to be in a phone?

    I obviously don't get all these new fangled things. I understand the concept of contactless but why does it need to be in a phone or even a card for that matter? Why can't you get the chip in a ring or a bracelet or even some sort of embedded tattoo? Ok the tattoo might be going a bit far, but really why the obsession with the phone?

    Would the easiest thing not just be (for starters) have the contactless chip in the credit card (as you can already get). So you swipe your wallet, if the purchase is over £10-20 then you add in the pin if not job done. You might need to add an extra step to select which card to use on a touch screen panel since folk usually have more than one card. Anyway once that's working and everyone is happy with the process start making charm bracelets, rings, watches, or anything else you might want to stick the chip in. That way when you get mugged the mugger will have no idea if you've got a "card" on you or not. And then those of us who don't want to buy a new phone don't have to.

    1. CraPo

      Re: Why does it have to be in a phone?


      1. Tom 13

        Re: Ubiquity

        Is that anything like this:

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why does it have to be in a phone?

      "I obviously don't get all these new fangled things. I understand the concept of contactless but why does it need to be in a phone or even a card for that matter? Why can't you get the chip in a ring or a bracelet or even some sort of embedded tattoo? Ok the tattoo might be going a bit far, but really why the obsession with the phone?"

      Why are you waiting for an application for the technology.

      I use NFC all the time and for a variety of uses, pairing devices, sending data, making payments, etc... the tech and applications are their, most people are still blinded about how good their last decade iPhone is.

      (and really your posting to a tech site and can't get NFC to work??)

      1. fixit_f

        Re: Why does it have to be in a phone?

        Not the tattoo, but I reckon in future we might all have NFC chips embedded at birth. After all, my cat has one (it's dual purpose for recording her identity and is also used by the cat flap which will only open for her) so the technolology is there already :-)

        1. M Gale

          Re: Why does it have to be in a phone?

          As the guy in the kit kat advert might not have said: You are not a cat.

          Cats, and many other animals, are also killed with a lethal cocktail of drugs the moment their medical bills exceed the cost of the needle. Maybe that's in the future of humanity too?

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: Why does it have to be in a phone?

            Maybe that's how you treat your pets, but not the rest of us.

  9. Caff

    tesco mobile + tesco credit card

    Wait, don't tesco have tesco mobile and offer a tesco credit card...

    What exactly is stopping them offering a tesco NFC mobile phone/credit card ?

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: tesco mobile + tesco credit card

      What stops them is that no-one wants to use it. I had the same discussion with Virgin - pre Virgin Media - about integrating their credit card and mobile offerings. They said there was no consumer appeal.

  10. SynicNZ

    Perhaps its just an excuse

    for not upgrading all their terminals - they need to save some dosh

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Tesco reckons contact-less pay-by-wave technology in phones has had its day - and the shopping giant is moving back to relying on cash and traditional payment cards."

    This is bollox! If NFC was in iPhones, the story would be different. But because the plebs haven't got a clue and need to wait for a killer application for a technology, it has not become as normal (to some) as updating your status. 1,000,000's use contactless technologies every day.

  12. Velv Silver badge

    Anyone who rules out anything is putting the blinkers on.

    Disclosure: I work in IT for Banks (not currently RBS).

    From a purely customer perspective my group of friends recently used the RBS mobile app to pay for dinner. One guy paid the bill by debit card, two gave him cash, and three paid by App. Select recipients mobile number, add the amount, and confirm payment. Text messages received in 10 seconds by recipient for each amount through Faster Payments. Saves all this walking home with £100 in tenners (unless going home via a bar with ladies of negotiable affection).

    So you can only pay RBS mobile app users at present (or send to a Visa card, but I haven't tried that). But once the banks agree a standard, why wouldn't you be able to agree the payment by NFC bonk of the phones, then let Faster Payments transact in the background. Integration of NFC, App and FPS

  13. Andyb@B5

    NFC free

    I've no problem with phones having NFC capability so long as I can disable it 100% This is a technology I simply do not want. Had it foisted on me by HSBC but at least they were quick enough to send me a debit card replacement without it quickly enough once I complained.

  14. Maharg

    Bonk Cards

    Quick Question, is there anything (apart from morals and the police) that stops me nicking your wallet, and going into shop after shop buying packets of fags using your ‘bonk’ card, spending less than £10 a pop in each and running up the bill before the card is cancelled? I could even bash you over the head to make sure it doesn’t get cancelled too soon, Granted, the same could be done with money, but that would depend on the amount you have on you at the time.

    Because if a good upstanding citizen such as myself has thought of this, I’m sure some toe-rag has as well.

    1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Bonk Cards

      No more than the cash it's intended to replace. Every few transactions you'll be asked for the PIN (depending on how dodgy the transactions look) and you'll be easy to find on CCTV as each transaction is time stamped, but you'll probably get away with a few tenners.


    2. Robin Bradshaw

      Re: Bonk Cards

      I havent looked at nfc bank cards yet as i dont have one, but id certainly like to know more about the security of the cards, would you even have to steal the wallet or could you read the details off the card while it still in you pocket and clone it?

      Mines the one with the proxmark3 in the pocket :)

      1. Rippy

        Re: Bonk Cards

        Sir Robin,

        On Wednesday the CBC had a report of using a Galaxy S3 and a free app from Google Play to clone NFC card info:


  15. Bod

    Cards yes, phones no

    That's what I've found anyway. I have an NFC phone but I suspect like so many (of the few NFC) phones it's complicated. The implementation is fragmented and stitched up with deals between operators and card companies. Turns out I can't use mine to pay unless I buy another S2 from Orange that has the deal with Barclaycard, despite my existing S2 having NFC. Even then I'm stuck with Barclaycard. No bank does an app for their own payment without it being tied up with a plan it seems either.

    Credit and debit cards with NFC... a doddle. Everyone's got a card in their wallet or pocket, except maybe kids ;) (though just dish out NFC PayPal or basic debit cards for them).

    Few have NFC stuff but I use it in the likes of M&S to buy a sandwhich. It saves half a minute. No need to wait for it to identify the card, think about it, then ask for pin, enter the pin, think about it some more, then goes through and remove the card. This is just... bonk card, job done.

    A card is easier to fumble with than a bulky phone too. I'd tap the phone and probably have it fly out of my hand.

    The kids... yeah they're glued to the phone, but paying for things with it is a distraction from sending Facebook updates. One hand can be updating FB and the other handing over cash or bonking a card.

    1. Brenda McViking

      Re: Cards yes, phones no

      Yes, at the moment cards I would agree are easier to use than phones, but I'd far rather have just one thing to look out for than 2 or 3, and that would be my phone. If I empty my pockets now, I have 3 things on me - a wallet with my house keycard (NFC) credit card (NFC) and cash, my car fob (wassat then? radio? NFC? it's one of these crazy keyless entry things...) and my mobile.

      Why do I need to take this lot out with me? an NFC mobile phone can pretty much replace the lot. Yes, if I'm mugged, I'd probably lose the lot - just like if I was mugged right now. Battery life is also used as an argument against - but a mobile phone NFC can work without power. The most useful device that I'm always carrying regardless is the mobile. If I could do away with the wallet with all the cards, I would.

      They should go further - smart tags on quick grab products. bonk phone against it, it's yours. No till / bored PFY / queue / time wasting required. Could even have a reciept on screen to shove into the face of a security guard / NFC for ski-resort-style gates at store exit.

  16. fixit_f
    Thumb Up

    That's hilarious

    At lunchtime literally today I wandered up to Tesco to get some lunch, realised as I went through the door that I'd forgotten my wallet and had to go all the way back to the office. I couldn't be arsed to go back again so I had some grim office canteen food instead. But if there had been an NFC chip in my mobile, which I WAS carrying, they'd have got my business!!!

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: That's hilarious

      Or if you could have paid by pingit, 3d barcode, text message. There are plenty of technologies which would work without adding the the bill of materials on the phone.

  17. Oli 1

    Crap implementation!

    Tesco have the worst implementation of nfc of all the major retailers. It fails to work for me at least every other time. Every other place I've used it, it works first time.

    Nfc mobile seems to still be struggling I'm yet to b able to try it but I'm happy with bonk by card so don't see the big deal really

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