Orange UK and T-Mobile UK have announced that they will launch the UK's first mobile payment service by early summer. The company said that it had agreed a deal with the credit card issuer Barclaycard that will enable UK consumers to pay for goods and services by simply waving their mobile phone across a contactless reader.
According to Gerry McQuade, chief development officer of Orange's parent, Everything Everywhere, this move was the beginning of a revolution in how consumers pay for things on the high street. Speaking to Pocket-lint, McQuade said: "It's a cultural shift that is as important as the launch of the personal credit card or ATMs."
While Orange said that the new service will be supported by over 40,000 stores being equipped with contactless readers, the company was coy about which handsets will be available with the required NFC technology and from which vendors.
Nokia has launched several NFC-enabled handsets, albeit in low volumes and mainly for trial purposes, leaving Google's Nexus S device, launched last month, as the only handset that would currently work with the new service.
However, given that the next iPhone is rumoured to support NFC technology, other handset vendors are sure to be working to integrate the technology into a selection of their device portfolios, and there may be a number of announcements in this sector at next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
In an attempt to reassure potential merchants and consumers, Orange said that it was working with the world's leading handset manufacturers and that it expected the choice to be far greater than just one device at the time of launch.
Mobile payments is a service that has been widely anticipated in Europe, but failed to succeed due to technical issues, infrastructure capex requirements and consumer reluctance.
Only recently a survey of French consumers indicated a strong level of mistrust in using handsets to make purchases, which followed a statement from Sony Ericsson that it would not launch NFC-ready handsets because of a lack of infrastructure in the UK and Europe.
- see this Pocket-lint article
Mobile payments: 'Non,' say French consumers
London first for mass-market NFC mobile payments, says Telefonica
Dutch banks and operators agree to common mobile payments platform
Mobile and contactless payments hit UK milestones