Rumour mill: Barclaycard and Orange scheme NFC launch

A Barclaycard exec has inadvertently revealed that it is working with Orange to launch an NFC-enabled handset by the end of this year. The cell phone would also be equipped with an augmented reality application indicating the nearest retail outlet offering NFC, or the closest cashpoint ATM for those wanting real cash.

According to Barclaycard's head of innovation marketing, Sarah Mansfield, consumers would be able to buy an Orange NFC-enabled phone and make payments with it by passing the handset close to an NFC reader within the retail store. The phone would also provide the user with features such as transaction checking and pre-paid top-ups.

The augmented reality app is mentioned as running on the iPhone or handsets using Google's Android platform--albeit that neither platform supports NFC today. However, Apple is thought to have been investigating the integration of NFC into its handsets, and it would be a relatively simple process for Orange to ask an Asian handset OEM to build an Android-based device that supported NFC.

Orange and Barclaycard have co-operated in the past with the launch of a co-branded credit card in January 2010 that enabled users to make payments of €10 (or less) using contactless technology.

NFC is a technology that has failed to break into the mobile phone world with Nokia being the only vendor committed to integrating it into handsets. However, if Orange and Barclaycard were to promote the contactless payment service it could become a significant differentiator for both organisations and help them justify the resources involved and the required ongoing investment.

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