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Contactless mobile payment services coming to the UK

Barclaycard and Everything Everywhere Ltd. announced the full-scale launch of a contactless mobile payment service set for the second quarter of 2011. The new service will allow customers in the U.K. to use mobile phones equipped with near field communication (NFC) chips to pay for purchases at the point of sale by waving their phones over specially-equipped terminals. The announcement marks the first large-scale mobile payment program in the U.K.

Everything Everywhere, based in Hatfield, U.K., is a joint venture formed in 2010 between Orange (U.K.), owned by France Télécom SA, and T-Mobile (U.K.), owned by Deutsche Telecom AG. Barclaycard is a division of the U.K. bank Barclay's PLC.

In the announcement, Everything Everywhere Chief Development Officer Gerry McQuade said, “We’re making something that’s been talked about for many years a reality and very soon.”

Barclaycard and Orange first announced a partnership in 2009 to promote contactless payments with an eventual goal of creating a mobile payment solution.

Payment processing for the new network will be provided by MasterCard Inc., the U.S.-based payment card brand, through its PayPass contactless point-of-sale product. Dutch digital security company Gemalto NV will also provide services to ensure the safety of customer transactions.

David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Consumer Europe, said, "As payment experts, our role is to make it easier, more convenient and incredibly secure for people to make purchases and manage their money while on the move."

To use the mobile payment services, consumers must have mobile phones with special NFC-equipped SIM chips installed. The SIM chips are similar to those in more than 11 million contactless payment cards already in circulation. According to the statement, Barclaycard and Everything Everywhere have been working with handset manufacturers to make NFC-enabled phones available.

For retailers, existing terminals that already read contactless payment cards will work with the new mobile payment services. The announcement says more than 40,000 retailers in the U.K. will be able to accept mobile payments using contactless terminals by the time the services are rolled out this summer.

(photo credit: Orange UK)

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