Some consumers in London reportedly experienced problems with the contactless payment system U.K. retail giant Marks & Spencer recently expanded into all of its 644 stores.
The terminals accepting the contactless payments are reading cards that are in shoppers' purses or handbags instead of the cards intended to be used for the purchase, according to an article in London's Daily Telegraph.
When announcing its system expansion, Marks & Spencer reported it was handling as many as 230,000 contactless transactions a week from consumers using Visa PayWave contactless cards or Near Field Communication-enabled smartphones. Users tap their card or device at a point-of-sale terminal to complete transactions of up to £20 (U.S $30.33).
As many as five consumers have told Marks & Spencer that the terminal charged a card that was in a purse away from the terminal, while they were in the process of completing a chip-and-PIN transaction with another card, the Telegraph article says. A London-based sandwich shop chain was encountering the same problems, the article says.
Consumers initiating a payment at a contactless terminal reader generally wave the card or smartphone just centimeters from that reader. The Marks & Spencer terminals operate in the same manner.
Marks & Spencer refunded the disputed payments, but company officials told the Telegraph the NFC system had been well-tested prior to its full rollout and indicated the general response to the system has been positive.
The Register, a website reporting on marketing and retail technology in the U.K., claims that a terminal properly programmed to the NFC standard should not be making a connection with a card in a purse several inches away.
The EMV smart-card standard on which NFC terminals are supposed to operate requires the contactless circuit to disconnect as soon as a chip-and-PIN card is slotted in its reader to initiate a transaction, the Register states.