Blog article
See all stories »

In which style battles function and confusion ensues

Partly because I want to be down with the kids and partly because of my job, I recently took delivery of a lovely new Barclaycard PayTag. This I duly stuck to my phone, as suggested, and prepared to be part of the new wave of consumers who can leave their wallets at home (personally, I’d rather leave my phone at home but don’t tell anyone).

Not long afterwards I noticed that my phone was behaving very strangely. Every time I unlocked it, it generated an ‘empty tag’ screen that I had to delete. Using the keypad during calls (for example to call centres) became nightmarish as every time I moved the phone, I generated another tag, which switched the keypad off. As I’d recently downloaded an Android update, I assumed that this was to blame and hoped there’d be another release soon to get rid of the problem.

It wasn’t till I was fiddling around with my Wi-fi settings that I noticed that NFC on the phone was switched on. The phone (a Samsung S3) and the tag were fighting with each other. I switched it off, removed the tag just in case and the problem stopped.

I’d actually quite like to keep NFC enabled on my phone (it goes with the job) so where do I stick the tag? Not to my beautiful, expensive, new leather purse, for a start. Nor is there any point in putting it in the purse where it would nestle next to my Barclaycard and cause no end of collisions. I’m not sure I want to attach it to my keyring (more expensive leather) or to the Cryptocard that hangs from it. Nor to my passport either or to my driving licence, which lives in my purse. It’s a bit too big to stick to a lipstick or a pen. I don’t remember anything about this befuddling issue in the otherwise exhaustive pack of paperwork from Barclaycard that came with the tag.

So what’s the point of this? After all, I’m not writing an accessories column for a style blog (it’s a red, faux-snake Longchamp purse by the way – to die for, darling). The point, it seems, is that I know what NFC is because I work for a company that is expert in NFC and so I didn’t take too long to figure out what the problem was. For the regular punter, that is unlikely to be the case and as a result, I predict that there will be an uplift of people taking their tag-encrusted,NFC- enabled phones into their local MNO shop, complaining that it’s broken. This is actually a great opportunity for Barclaycard and network operators to do some positive education around NFC – not just about tags but about contactless in general. As the reader comments resulting from the recent M&S contactless press scare showed, there’s certainly a need for that.

Where would you stick your PayTag if not to your phone?


Comments: (8)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 02 August, 2013, 10:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Jane, this sounds incredibly frustrating.  My solution however is to download the Masterpass Mobile Wallet which is available from the Google Play Store, and uses the NFC capabilities on your phone.  This way you can be done with the Barclay Card Tag.

If however you only have a Visa card, I say sit tight until (Visa Mobile Wallet) is fully rolled out.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 02 August, 2013, 10:56Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Apologies the Mastercard Wallet is called the 'EE Tap Wallet' on google play

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 02 August, 2013, 19:19Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

How ironic that the NFC story starts with "you don't have to carry around a bulky leather wallet with so many plastic cards" and ends with users not finding space to even accommodate a single NFC tag for one credit card! Sounds like NFC is already broken. On another note, given that Samsung S3 has inbuilt NFC, why does BarclayCard even need to issue a separate tag?

Jane Adams
Jane Adams - Currently looking for a job - Edinburgh 05 August, 2013, 09:37Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Gents, we have a solution. It's now stuck to my gym card so I can now head into M&S after working out to contactlessly buy a large cake, without having to take my handbag with me.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 August, 2013, 14:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Corbin, can you give a link for the Masterpass Mobile Wallet as I cannot find it anywhere on Google Play. 

Raymond Lee
Raymond Lee - PHOS - London 07 August, 2013, 10:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Ahh.. the EE product..QuickTap 2.0 ;)

A missed opportunity to do something new. Problem is, and it's a problem with NFC generally, is that it cripples the version of Android and is locked down by the MNO. Whenever Samsung or Google bring out a new version, the chances of you getting it are very slim, if at all. The proposition is not a strong one given the very limited functionality of the "wallet"

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 07 August, 2013, 18:30Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


I remember my FitnessClub gym card in Germany being contactless several years ago. If your gym card is contactless and still manages to accommodate the PayTag, then you've found a permanent solution. If not, will you be back to square one the day your gym card becomes contactless? 

Now hiring