Supermarket pilot lets customers pay at checkout via a mobile phone

Supermarket pilot lets customers pay at checkout via a mobile phone

Dutch retailer tests near-field communication technology for payments

The first European trial of mobile phones linked to online debit accounts to pay for goods launched in the Netherlands last week.

A six-month pilot is taking place at a branch of Dutch supermarket C1000. It will allow 100 customers to pay for their shopping with their mobiles, using the existing online PIN payment infrastructure.

The phones are equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology, which supports contact-free exchange of information, including payments, over a short distance.

Customers are amazed by the simplicity of the system, according to C1000 owner Wout van der Wal.

“Paying with a mobile phone saves time and hassle and reduces queues,” said van der Wal.

“Customers don’t have to dig in coat pockets or search through a wallet for the right card. And they have suggested things such as equipping the photocopy machine with NFC and also storing loyalty points on their mobile,” he said.

Groceries are paid for by holding the phone next to an NFC reader at the checkout and entering a PIN. The NFC chip in the phone transmits a unique ID, linked to the shopper’s bank account.

The pilot is being run by LogicaCMG for customers with online accounts at Rabobank.

Van der Wal said that working with trusted financial partners had reassured customers.

Datamonitor analyst Alex Kwiatkowski said it is the NFC element of the technology that is likely to take off.

“Using a mobile phone is only one possibility, and it won’t necessarily be the mass-adopted option. Whether people choose to use NFC with a phone, a plastic card such as the Oyster travelcard or a mobile device such as an MP3 player remains to be seen,” he said.