O2 trials NFC payments for mobiles

UK operator O2 has begun the UK's first large scale pilot of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology on mobile phones.

The trial, which will involve over 500 O2 customers, began Wednesday and will run until the end of May.

Partners in the trial include Transport for London, TranSys, Barclaycard, Visa Europe, Nokia and AEG, and retailers Books Etc, Chop'd, Coffee Republic, EAT, Krispy Kreme, Threshers and YO! Sushi.

Each user will be given a Nokia 6131 NFC handset installed with the O2 Wallet loaded with 200 pounds ($416). The wallet will hold several cards - such as Oyster and Barclaycard - in virtual form and with NFC functionality.

As well as making payments, customers will also be able to use the phones to check available funds and to locate retailers close to them that accept contactless payments.

'We believe that NFC technology is going to fundamentally change the way people use their mobile phones,' said O2 UK customer director Cath Keers.