An older mobile-wallet technology is getting fresh attention at Westpac Bank in New Zealand, which wants to encourage people without the latest iPhone or Android handset to make contactless mobile payments.
Before Near Field Communication technology became common in smartphones, many early mobile wallets relied on NFC-enabled stickers to add contactless payment capabilities to consumers' devices. Westpac is revisiting this concept, which may become suddenly popular as retailers begin to push back against Apple Pay and other app-based mobile payment systems.
Westpac's product doesn't require an app or fingerprint authentication or any of the other software-based attributes of the modern mobile wallet. "It's basically a credit card stuck on the back of the phone," said Shane Howell, chief product officer at Westpac.
The technology is designed to make the phone work as similar to a credit card as possible, and enables the user to avoid navigating between m-commerce apps or entering PINs or other credentials to make payments. The MasterCard-branded sticker enables purchases of less than about $80.
"Most phones have NFC now, but depending on the application of NFC, different wallets are set up different ways," Howell said.
Other companies, such as Barclays, offer NFC-enabled stickers, but these products are fast evolving into wearables such as wristbands, which do not require users to pull out their phones to make a payment.
Westpac worked with Gemalto to develop the sticker, which the bank offers to consumers for free (it may eventually charge a $5 fee).
The bank is also in the midst of a large renovation of its mobile banking and mobile payments operations, which includes a trail of host card emulation, another technology that is designed to standardize the user experience for mobile payments across different devices.
The institution is also girding for the arrival of Apple Pay, which has not been announced in New Zealand, but is expected to be an international initiative. "It's the early days for Apple wallet, and we're waiting to hear more about what their plans are in New Zealand," Howell said.
Some mobile wallets are more difficult to use, and the "beauty" of a sticker is it can attach to any phone, said Zil Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent. "Some [wallets] can be much more convoluted for both the consumer and merchant, to the point where it is too hard to use and customers try but don't go back."