back to article Can't wait to bonk with Apple? Then try an Android phone

Four years ago, your reporter paid for cookies with a mobile phone. Now, with Apple poised to bring some wrist action to bonking cash, we thought we’d take a look at how the competition has evolved. We’ve been trying Vodafone SmartPass, and discovered that things haven’t improved much over the last four years. In fact, …

  1. Buzzword

    What I want from NFC phone payments

    I'd like the amount to pop up on the screen, together with green and red approve/reject buttons. The most aggravating thing about contactless is that you often don't see how much you're being charged; or that it is shown, but only on a tiny screen which isn't well-positioned or well-lit. You have to trust that the person operating the till correctly typed in £1.95 and not £19.95; or that they only charged you for your beer and not for somebody else's whole round.

    1. Test Man

      Re: What I want from NFC phone payments

      This is exactly the same as for every single payment in history ever, so I don't see why you're making out as if it's a negative. Obviously it's up to you to view the amount on the cash register display whether you're paying via cash, card, cheque, Apple Pay, whatever.

      The whole point is to just pay in a near-instant, so you're not going to be able to have your phone display the amount on it at the time of "bonking" because by then it's too late, you've paid.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: it's up to you

        Theoretically yes. In practice, well it gets a bit more difficult.

        Yes, it's up to you to ensure that the number on the register is the one you're expecting. That said, a confirmation on the screen of your phone is entirely reasonable and justified.

        Especially since this whole thing is going to run on code that you will never, ever see, much less be authorized to debug.

        But hey, I'm never going to bonk with a phone, so I'll leave you to find out what happens when things go wrong.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Late to the party

    Apple can smooth out the process as much as it wants. But I've already got a contactless payment card that works perfectly well, is fully integrated with my bank account, works on London Transport like an Oyster card. And when I use it, I don't have to give my data to Apple, nor give them a slice for the privilege of using it.

    So the Android versus Apple NFC wars can rage all they want, I won't be using either. If phone makers of operators wanted to make NFC payments work, then it had to be simple, bonk-to-pay, fully integrated with my credit or current accounts, with widespread retailer acceptance, and it had to be three years ago.

    I suppose Apple might be able to count on the willing victimhood of the more credulous fanbois, but Google, Vodafone and others might as well give up now.

    1. JP19

      "And when I use it, I don't have to give my data to Apple"

      But while carrying it you do have to give your data to anyone within a few metres of you who bothers to set up an antenna and system to read it.

      I don't want to be this and having it in my wallet instead of riveted to my ear doesn't make a difference.

      So no always on NFC cards for me thank you. Paying by NFC phone bonking on demand is actually more acceptable.

    2. Paw Bokenfohr

      Re: Late to the party

      At least with Apple Pay you get the one-time token so you're protected against the theft of credit card numbers from the retailer (which as we have seen, is way more of a threat than Apple could be) as well as having the convenience of not having to take your wallet out of your pocket. Not that much of a hassle in most scenarios, but better if you're somewhere you don't know isn't unsafe, or if you've lost or forgotten it. And since the payment system isn't always-on, you don't have to keep the watch and phone in RFID protective cases like the cards you already have!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You don't give any data to Apple, the credit card number resides on your phone only, and they don't gather any data on purchases. Nor does it cost you anything, the 0.15% comes from the bank (part of what they get from the retailer)

      But I agree with you that bonking a phone is no improvement at all over bonking a card. For that matter the only reason bonking a card is an improvement over swiping a card is because swiping gives the retailer your actual credit card number, which is subject to theft/fraud, rather than a one time code as chipped cards and Apple Pay do. If not for that I'd much rather swipe since the "N" in NFC isn't as near as it should be if fraudsters use a directional antenna and skim cards in your wallet as you walk by.

  3. JeffyPoooh

    Any phone...

    Slip your bonking bank card into your phone's case, obviously on the back side of the phone. Push it down so it doesn't block the camera lens.

    Instant bonking phone. Nobody need know how you did it.

  4. R 11

    Admittedly, Google are late to roll out Google Wallet to the UK, but your experience is nothing like that of which Android is capable in the US.

    I tap my phone and get a pin dialogue box. Enter my pin and confirm the payment. I can change which credit card I'm using if so desired.

    The process is as seamless as you can really expect from a user point of view.

    The problem for me is that I'm billed by Google rather than the store, and this limits my cash back substantially. That, however isn't Google's fault - the banks didn't want to play ball and instead wanted convoluted systems like the one you described.

  5. Planty Bronze badge


    "Apple Pay has outperformed the competition in the USA "

    Not what I saw. I could use Google wallet loads more places.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Re: hmmm

      You're confusing availability with adoption.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    the transaction limit has (so far) proved an effective disincentive against fraud

    Be that as it may, I'd still rather count tenners left in my wallet without seeing them disappear softly and silently into the night... even if authorised by me.

    There's a lot to be said for cash, but unfortunately most if it is in favour of the cash user, not the banks who want their percentage and the tracking info. I will not be using anything like this.

    1. phil dude

      Re: the transaction limit has (so far) proved an effective disincentive against fraud

      mod-up. For example in American bars you can run a tab - and drink until you pass out.

      Hence, I pay for my drinks one at a time so it is much easier to stay inside one's limits.

      For those of us who grew up in the UK, I think that may be the origin of "drinking in rounds"?

      The practical effect I propose is "synchronised inebriation".

      A sport the UK could excel at in the new Olympics...


  7. Alan J. Wylie

    Don't use numbers or special characters.

    Clearly the Vodaphone web creators have never read

    Bo’ness, Westward Ho!

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