Contactless Challenge Revisited: Final Thoughts

The Gemalto Contactless Challenge kicked off in the United States June 10th, with two bloggers from Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah, respectively, putting contactless payment infrastructure to the test.

The Isis Consortium of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless chose Austin and Salt Lake City to pilot its mobile wallet using near field communication (NFC) technology because both cities are innovative and tech savvy and have systems in place that accept NFC.

The Contactless Challenge was designed to show how anyone with basic tech skills can ditch his or her leather wallet and use a so-called digital wallet. One blogger used an Android phone that had NFC built in. But, like me, he owns an iPhone 5, which does not support NFC. My understanding is that there are plans to produce a snap-on case that supports the capabilities and features required to make NFC work on the iPhone—which would be essential for Contactless to work, as iPhones are almost 50 percent market share.

During the Challenge, one of the challenges was that contactless payments weren’t offered, or the payments failed at the point of sale, which frankly is a bit disappointing. As a society we are stuck on card technology, and the major card issuers haven’t really made it a priority to require merchants to accept contactless payments just yet. It will happen eventually; I just want it NOW!

As Josh Kerr, one of the bloggers in the Challenge, points out: “This technology is ready for mainstream. In fact, the only real thing holding it back is that not all merchants accept it. I see that changing over time as merchants upgrade their credit card terminals to ones that support wireless forms of payment. This will happen automatically, but it could take a while before it is ubiquitous.”

Agreed, Josh, agreed!

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures