back to article Android phone to replace shop till

Alcatel-Lucent has demonstrated Google's Nexus S being used to accept a Near Field Communications (NFC) payment, showing that NFC can do more than replace a customer's wallet. Mobile phones are going to replace physical wallets, but for taking payments, merchants still use expensive readers bought (or hired) from the banks. …


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  1. Eponymous Cowherd

    On Screen Barcodes

    ***"Existing mobile payment systems, such as the bar codes being deployed by Masabi on the UK train networks, can't be read by another handset as phone cameras aren't good enough to read a code displayed on-screen ... at least not yet."***

    That certainly isn't my experience, though it can be rather hit and miss, which wouldn't be much use at a busy ticket barrier.

    However, there are plenty of Bluetooth "ring" scanners (1D and 2D) that can be coupled to the phone. These cost about £500 each, but still pretty cheap compared to a full POS terminal.

  2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    How about,

    simple physical tokens of "money", that can be physically passed to somebody, at which point it becomes "their money". This would be convenient if you didn't want to use your phone, or your battery ran out. Either some kind of voucher printed on paper, or pieces of some more robust material stamped with a distinctive design, could be used. Call me crazy.

    Alternatively you could just take a picture of the tokens with your camera and use that, or would that be too silly?

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      That's crazy talk

      Imagine the logistical challenge of trying to keep track of countless tiny pieces of paper or metal. Why, you'd have to have an entire industry of people devoted to the task, and just imagine the shenanigans *they* could get up to if they decided to manipulate the system!

    2. John Angelico

      Of course security would be an issue...

      ...but I'm sure there could be some engineering adjustments for those robust (metal?) tokens, and maybe some design features could be a part of the printed image...

      Your idea has some legs, my friend :-)

    3. Fr Barry

      A brilliant idea

      "This would be convenient if you didn't want to use your phone, or your battery ran out."

      Or as in my case where my HTC desire has been back with Carphone Warehouse for the past 8 days because it decided to go into the multiple reboot then die mode. Not a feature google or HTC told me about when I got it

      If I was using this technology I'd be stuck not being able to by my smokes or get to work on public transport.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        HTC desire has been back with Carphone Warehouse for the past 8 days

        Suppose you had filled it with prepaid Near Field tokens? Would they have mysteriously vanished in the reboot? or at the depot?

  3. johnnytruant

    my phone reads onscreen barcodes all the time

    title says it all. my laptop's screen has plenty enough resolution and contrast for my phone to scan a 2D or 3D barcode from, without blowing up the code to stupid sizes either (ie, the barcode is no bigger than it would be if displayed on a phone screen).

    My HTC Legend phone isn't exactly ancient, but it's hardly cutting edge either.

    Interestingly though, the webcam on my laptop can very rarely read barcodes from the real, high-resolution, world, let alone a screen.

    1. Chris Griffin


      You mean, a 1D or a 2D barcode?

      3D barcodes would be well mexico.

  4. GeorgeTuk

    Good idea but will be difficult to get it certified by the banks.

    You normally have to buy and use their kit or something approved.

    Still I am all for breaking monopolies!

  5. Spanners Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    On Screen Barcodes work for me

    My Android can read barcodes off the computer screen. I have used 2d ones to link to software I was wanting to install. Worked every time.

    I have had less practice with the 1d ones so I googled some pictures just now. Every one worked.

    My phone is nothing new and shiny - HTC Hero.

  6. JasonW

    NFC won't be replacing my wallet any time soon...

    ... I carry my debit card, credit card, work charge card and actual folding money... using each of them depending upon what I'm spending the money on., and I don't think I'm alone in that.

    Will I need an armful of phones with NFC on now?

  7. TonyHoyle

    Bar codes are fine

    Google even use them as a quick config for their OTP system.

    Modern smartphones have pretty decent cameras. The software problems are basically solved.. nothing wrong with using barcodes.

  8. Richard 51
    Thumb Up

    Playground Muggers Application of Choice

    Can you imagine joey walks up to unsuspecting kid and nicks his lunch money off of of his android phone with his own phone. Its progress folks !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Lunch money

      :0) Progress in that field has already been made.

      Only now, if you anyone wants my daughter's lunch money they are going to need to cut 2 of her finger/s off.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        ok, then what?

        What will happen the 2nd time? Or after the 5th time, she'll have to start carrying money and learn how to count change.

        1. Robert E A Harvey


          If she's had two fingers cut off for the 5th time, counting change is going to be nearly as hard as carrying it..

  9. Camilla Smythe

    So, that's Google Where is Experian?

    Oh Noes..... Fire up the furnaces, pass me my smelting hammer and break open the tin ingot cavern.

  10. dssf

    It would be good if this provided a way to near- and far-range pay or transfer

    money to other parties. Other than fraud prevention, the only reason for banks to delay wires is to retain some chance to collect on wire transfer fees. Imagine if people needing bridge loans between paydays get in on this. Various phone companies could find themselves wanting a piece of that action. Imagine phone companies getting into payroll transfers, too.

  11. kennsmi
    Big Brother

    ...cold dead hands

    That's where you will find my cash.

    Alcatel-Lucent hope to make a little money on A LOT of transactions.

    The guberments want to track everything, for our own good of course, nothing to do with tax, suppressing legitimate opposition and the like...have you thought of the children recently?? Well don't you paedo scum.

    Who could possibly lose out of this?!

  12. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Putting it mildly

    "There are also significant security considerations, which aren't addressed by the company's demonstration."

    Ya think? How can NFC be secured against skimming in, for example, a crowded subway car? They can have my physical wallet when they pull it off my cold, dead--uh, never mind.

  13. illiad

    Ever wonder why many shops dont take credit, cheques, etc??

    The cost of them changing it into 'money in their bank' is usually far too high for their small business.. Even the Oyster (London transport NFC) card shops will only take cash..

    It will have to be *heavily* subsidized for anyone smaller than a supermarket to use...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If supermarkets were the only ones, it'd still be worth it

      Supermarkets is the one place I'd really appreciate accepting e-money. A simple way to secure your e-money would be to require a hardware button to be held down during the transaction; this would prevent drive-by e-muggings.

  14. Robert E A Harvey

    significant security considerations

    "There are also significant security considerations, which aren't addressed by the company's demonstration."

    Like some scrote programming his Galaxy to deduct 50p from everyone he bumps into while its in his pocket? That could harvest a couple of grand just by being a nuisance on the tube.

    I'll stick with cash & pin terminals, ta.

  15. Mage Silver badge


    Or Privacy?

    Like Google knows all you buy, when you buy, where you buy to formulate their search results and adverts for you.

  16. alwarming
    Thumb Up


    I can get killed for my phone now.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    PCI and all that

    The obstacles will be political/corporate rather than technical. The banks and card issuers demand compliance with the likes of PCI-DSS. Unless they certify mobile phones as secure it's not going to happen. Allegedly secure dedicated terminals have been compromised in the past, it would be child's play to exploit a mobile phone. The decision will be the card issuers and banks, not Google's.

  18. Tigra 07
    Thumb Down

    I disagree..

    "though convincing the world that an Android handset can be made secure will be tough."

    Better than having a closed apple system where vulnerabilities are covered up and their existence is denied.

  19. yannakis

    N igerian F alse C redit

    Dear sir,

    I am dr John Bumbadee, former minister of education of Nigeria. I need to transfer $5,000,000 that were left over from building schools in my country using your googlephone. You will be rewarder with 10% of the amount transfered.

    Truly yours

    dr John

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