Barclaycard PayTag: it’s mobile NFC, but not as we know it

The UK credit card company, Barclaycard are rolling out their PayTag NFC stickers to millions of customers in the hope they will attach them to their phones. The company has already been sending them to a selected few, but the recent announcement will see that scaled up to significantly more customers.

But is this a good thing for mobile NFC? This could certainly be a good way to introduce users to tapping their phone in to an NFC terminal to make a payment. However, unlike mobile embedded NFC the PayTags are essentially dumb chips that do not link to the the phone and have limited capabilities. Currently that capability is a £15 payment (rising to £20 in June). Native NFC is capable of doing so much more. It can link to a website, launch a video, add loyalty points, be used for event or transport ticketing.

In the UK the major supermarkets are rolling out NFC terminals as well as commitments from Transport for London to include mobile ticketing in their contactless system. The danger with PayTags is that it does not benefit the user significantly enough to encourage mass adoption of NFC.

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