Who said an iPhone can’t handle Near Field Communication payments?

Two United Kingdom banks are enrolling customers in a TouchPay trial program in which contactless-enabled sleeves are used on Apple Inc. iPhone 4 and 4S devices. None of Apple’s handsets are built with NFC chips.

Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest banks, both part of the RBS group, initially announced plans for the payment service in July. The companies announced this week that the initial rollout of 1,000 Wireless Dynamics Inc. devices are being delivered to customers who pre-registered for the service, which will be available to all customers with iPhones “in the near future.”

London-based Wireless Dynamics provides the iCarte radio frequency identification- and NFC-enabled mobile phone sleeve for the iPhones. Australian Commonwealth bank utilized the iCarte as a contactless pay device for iPhones last year for its mobile commerce program called Kaching. 

The UK banks said as many as 9,000 RBS customers have registered to participate in the trial program.

Visa Europe operates as the processor aiding the TouchPay project.

“A key industry challenge in bringing mobile contactless payments to consumers is finding ways to enable existing smartphones that do not offer NFC technology,” Sandra Alzetta, senior vice president and head of innovation at Visa Europe, stated in a press release.

“Services like TouchPay show how NFC-enabled accessories for smartphones can deliver the future of payments today and help hasten mainstream adoption,” Alzetta added.

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