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Orange launches contactless mobile wallet

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The UK arm of France Telecom’s Orange has launched what it says is the first contactless mobile phone-based payment services, allowing customers to make purchases up to the value of £15. The service has been developed in conjunction with Barclaycard, and will use the credit card firm’s network of contactless readers, deployed in more than 50,000 UK stores.

The service, named Quick Tap, uses a secure, SIM-based solution based on technology from Gemalto but is only available, in the first instance, to customers who buy a special version of the Samsung Tocco handset. Orange said in a release that a wider range of compatible devices are “expected to follow” at some point in the future, a choice of words that suggests the firm isn’t certain when, or even if, they will come.

An Orange spokeswoman said that the firm is “currently in discussions with top handset vendors” about expanding the range of QuickTap handsets, so Samsung’s Tocco may have the space to itself for a little while.

The Tocco is a low end touchscreen model – it lacks 3G – which might be a pointer as to the target market for Orange’s initial foray into mobile wallet services. Traditional early adopters are not likely to want a low end handset, so it seems likely that Orange wants to sell the service more to its mass market customers. Orange name-checked a number of fast food outlets as participating retailers, including McDonalds, Little Chef and Subway.

The handset is not the only restriction, as only Barclays Bank debit card holders, or users of Barclaycard or Orange Credit Card can load money onto the financial application. The limit is set to £100.

Orange VP Pippa Dunn said that the service “is going to start a revolution in the way that we spend money on the high street”.

On Thursday, no doubt seeking to steal some of Orange’s thunder, rival O2 announced the organisations it will be partnering with for its own mobile wallet service, scheduled to launch later this year.


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