INSIDE Contactless has announced a sticker that will turn your phone into a credit card. The French company is working with a smartcard manufacturer to create stickers for your phone. These stickers carry MasterCard‘s PayPass contactless payment system, and turn your phone into an NFC credit card.
What’s going on here?
There are three companies co-operating here for a cool little mobile payments offering – I’ll break it down company-by-company:
INSIDE Contactless: this company works solely on contactless technologies, and uses open standards. It’s a big player in Near Field Communications, which are wireless systems that communicate over short ranges – about 10cm. INSIDE has gained a lot of attention from both the mobile and financial worlds, and has attracted major investment from Qualcomm, Samsung, Motorola and Visa (among others). It has designed and built the chip and antenna that are embedded in the stickers (the “MicroPass 4003 contactless payment processor”, if you must know).
MasterCard: the PayPass “Tap & Go” system that runs on the stickers was created by MasterCard. It was designed to be a part of normal MasterCard credit cards. If your credit card is PayPass enabled, and so is the reader at any checkout, then all you have to do is tap your card against the reader and the payment is made. It takes two seconds. PayPass readers aren’t ubiquitous, by any means, but they are becoming more widespread.
CPI Card Group: this company creates financial and commercial cards – including plastic, foil and smartcards. It is fabricating the actual stickers being used in this product.
What does it do?
It does the exact same thing that a PayPass enabled card does. You put this sticker on your phone – if you then tap your phone against a PayPass reader, you’ve made a payment.
What we think?
This isn’t the first time that stickers have popped up with INSIDE Contactless. In March 2009, it announced an identical deal with a different payment provider. Back then it went with an e-commerce company called First Data. I’m going to guess that didn’t turn all that well – however, it may have been the proof that MasterCard needed when it was considering whether to allow PayPass to be put into a sticker. Cathleen Conforti, SVP Global PayPass, MasterCard Worldwide claims it was “very pleased” to approve this deal, and said that “vendor solutions such as this tag… play an important role in advancing mobile payments by providing consumers with Tap & Go convenience using the phones they already carry everywhere.”
That doesn’t surprise me hugely. MasterCard must be delighted to get PayPass spreading to objects beyond the credit card. More importantly, it’s a lot easier to get someone to put a small sticker on their phone than it is to convince an OEM to embed your little NFC chip in their mobile device. Space is at a premium in there.
The fun thing about these stickers are that they don’t need to go on a phone. That just happens to be the item that most of the worlds population is likely to have with them at all times. If you could put one of them stickers on your shoe, or an apple. Or your face.