Just over a year ago I bought a mobile phone
I reckoned had quite a bit of potential. It featured all the standard things like a decent camera, large touch screen, apps apps and more apps, as well as few less common features such as a slightly curved screen and the capability to read and write to near feild communication (NFC) devices like smartcards.
Having seen the ease that systems like the Visa Paywave and Mastercard Pay Pass offered for paying for small transactions with the quick wave of a card, I was reasonably optimistic about the inclusion of NFC within a mobile and the things it might let me do as the technology matured. So my interest was piqued when I saw the mobile operator 2 Degrees and the NFC payment provider Snapper had launched an offering
that blended aspects of NFC and the a mobile network. The core offer seems to be a suite of Android based phones and snapper enabled sim cards
- though the Android App
does work without the special sim.
Whilst I have some reservations about the Snapper system, I do believe NFC payment ticketing systems like Snapper, Oyster, Octopus, Clipper (and all the other nautically named systems) make public transport quicker and easier to use. Some of my concerns and frustrations are just how awkward and incogruous the top-up experience can be (especially when you stray from the centre of the city), so I was almost excited (almost...) to find that with my phone, a Snapper card and a credit card handy, I am seemingly able to topup my card anywhere I had either 3G or Wifi coverage. No more weird routines like driving down to the Supermarket or Service station to top up my card, to drive back home, to get on the bus.
Would I have prefered it was my bank that was offering me a useful NFC service? Yup, it would remove a whole step from the flow. I can't help but think this may be a wake up call to a number of banks and other NFC payment hopefuls - I can't wait!