Barclays integrates m-payment into own banking app

Monday 16 May 2016 | 09:15 CET | Background

UK bank Barclays plans to launch its own mobile payment solution for Android smartphones. Launched in January for Barclaycard (credit card) holders, this HCE-based solution will be offered for debit cards from June. Contactless payment will not be offered as a standalone app, but as a fully integrated feature of the app Barclays Mobile Banking for Android. Barclays has enabled Apple Pay for iPhone and iPad, but will not support Android Pay or Samsung Pay.

The payment service is set up and managed within the Barclays Mobile Banking app, which is used by 5 million Barclays customers who on average access the app 27 times per month. Integrating contactless mobile within the Barclays Mobile Banking app also means customers can view their transactions alongside their other account movements in one environment.

HCE since Android KitKat

Barclays has developed an NFC mobile payment solution based on Host Card Emulation (HCE). Google has built this functionality into Android 4.4 (KitKat) and newer versions of the OS. All recent Android smartphones with NFC can be used for contactless payment, without a special SIM card.

The card networks have implemented additional security measures in their back office, such as giving each transaction a one-time code to mitigate fraud risks. Also in the UK, a limit is set on the transaction value for contactless payments, both card-based and mobile.

The new Barclays solution follows those limits. Contactless payments up to GBP 30 can be handled without entering a PIN. For payments higher than GBP 30, a PIN must be entered on the phone, and the phone must be presented to the cash register a second time. Some retailers may even block this functionality and cap transactions at the GBP 30 limit. For payments over GBP 100, mobile payment is not possible, so the physical card (or cash) must be used instead.

Debit cards supported from June

Barclays enabled contactless mobile payment for its Barclaycard credit card customers in January. All debit cards will be enabled from June. A Barclays spokeswoman said that the next update for the app will be published on Google Play in early June.

The bank will then gradually activate groups of customers and notify them when it’s ready. She said that set-up is quick and easy as eligible Barclays debit cards and Barclaycard credit cards are automatically shown in the app, meaning there is no need to enter card details.

By comparison, Samsung Pay and Android Pay require users to manually add cards. With Samsung this means scanning the card with the camera, wait until the card appears in the app and then confirm the PIN code.

For a one-time setup, this is still quick and straightforward and will probably not trouble the installation. It also means that other bank branded cards or non-payment cards can be added to the same digital wallet (once the bank supports activation).

No Barclays support for xPay

Google has announced it will launch Android Pay in the UK soon. Samsung has announced its own Samsung Pay solution. Barclays will support neither, favouring its in-house solution and full integration in the Barclays Mobile app and its own service channels. This also means that Barclays is the first major retail bank in the UK to offer the solution.

Pingit and bPay to stay

Barclays is the prime promoter of Pingit, an e-wallet designed for peer-to-peer payments (social payment), remittances and e-commerce. The app is not dependent on any bank, although activating it on a Barclays card is easier than with other bank accounts. Pingit was launched in 2012.

Barclays also offers bPay, a prepaid mobile contactless wallet. Users must register the app and top up the mobile wallet first. Positioned as an independent service, bPay can be linked to any bank account or several other payment options.

Payments up to GBP 30 can be done by NFC, without entering a PIN code as confirmation. The contactless chip is integrated in a sticker (sold separately for GBP 14.99), a key fob (GBP 17.99) or a wrist band (GBP 19.99).  Other lifestyle accessories, such as clothing, may follow.

bPay can be used with any EMV contactless reader and can also be used to get onto a bus or the underground in London. The appeal of this service is limited however by the upfront costs and by the fact that a separate account must be kept.

According to information in the app store, the app has been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times – in total, not just by Barclays customers – which suggests that the uptake is small. The Barclays spokeswoman said that bPay will continue, because giving consumers a choice of options is important.

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