Mobile payment and near field communications (NFC) technologies face their first serious large scale test at the London Olympic Games due to start in a few days. The event is being billed in some quarters as the cashless Olympics.
Athletes competing at the games will be given a special Olympic edition of the NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone which they will use to pay for purchases throughout the games.
NFC payment technology allows people to buy low-value items by using radio communication using an NFC-enabled smartphone with an ‘electronic wallet’ application. The phone taps or moves within a few millimetres of a suitably equipped payment terminal.
Games venues and most of central London have been supplied with contactless payments systems.
Olympic sponsor Visa is providing its Paywave mobile wallet technology for the trial and has distributed 1000s of terminals throughout London. The trial is restricted to athletes only and will not involve the general public.
One aspect of the trial that’ll be watched closely is the technology’s safety. Security software firm McAfee has warned that payments made at the games may not be safe. But given the focus Samsung has on security leadership in enterprise mobility, I would not be betting on there being any issues.
The Olympic NFC trial is part of a move to do away with cash – a trends which is gaining steam across the world and here in New Zealand.
We embraced eftpos cards some 20 years ago, while cashless payment technologies are already being tested in New Zealand.
By the end of the year we’ll be able to make everyday payments using suitably equipped mobile phones instead of plastic cards, notes and coins.