Attending Cartes this year, it is clear that contactless is the ‘next big thing' in payment innovation. Talked about for years, it is finally on the brink of mainstream adoption. In Europe, the UK and France are trailblazing the way with contactless trials
completed and aggressive roll-outs underway. Barclays in the UK has recently expanded its range of 'wave and pay' cards and hopes to convince more retailers to accept contactless payments as it seeks to beat its target of getting one million contactless cards
out to customers by the end of the year. In France, MasterCard Worldwide and RATP, the major transit operator in Paris, have just announced that they are looking at using MasterCard PayPass to access public transport services in the French capital.
Talk here at the conference is however focused on how to make mobile phones NFC-enabled through all sorts of gadgets from adapted SIM cards with antennas to stickers. Innovators are desperately trying to get into the NFC market before the phone companies who
are perhaps still 3-4 years down the track. Yet, as with cards, contactless mobile payments raise a number of issues including merchant service charges for retailers, points of interaction for customers and security risks. However, the biggest stumbling block
in ensuring the long-term success of NFC technology is building and maintaining cross-industry relationships. Finding a viable commercial model that fits all parties' requirements and is affordable for consumers has to become the priority if contactless payments
via NFC-enabled mobile phones are to become a reality.