Commonwealth Bank has finally embraced ‘Host Card Emulation‘ (or HCE), a new API that was introduced with Android 4.4, KitKat – allowing anybody with a device running Android 4.4 or later (and has NFC) to use ‘Tap and Pay’, or PayPass at any terminal that supports it.
The Passbook train continues to move forwards in Australia, with more companies climbing aboard, adding to the list of those already offering support for Passbook.
Late last year, the Queensland University of Technology (or, QUT) quietly added support for viewing your QUT Printing Service (QPS) balance via Passbook, meaning that your (live and up to date) balance is only a pull to refresh away, wherever you are, without needing to use a username and password.
Since then, the number of applications and companies have slowly increased. Just a quick look through AppShopper reveals applications with passbook support added, as well as companies like Qantas and Virgin Australia offering passes via their mobile web checkins (again demonstrating that you don’t need to have an app to support Passbook!) and Ticketek and Moshtix supporting Passbook for events.
The first application to be approved and actively promoted by Apple for having Passbook support was Nova’s ‘ShopperNova’ app – essentially a directory of coupons and other special offers. While the offers here could be added to Passbook, they weren’t taking complete advantage of all the features – using generic barcodes with just a ‘coupon code’ to be used online, or to confuse staff if you dared to try and use it at a brick and mortar location (looking at you Oporto and SuperDry).
Possibly the most touted feature of NFC has been mobile payments. The idea of only having to carry one device – when you go shopping, you only have to pull out your phone, tap it to the terminal, and you’ve just paid for your groceries. Unfortunately the above scenario is only true today for a select few – in the US, Google is making their best efforts to push Google Wallet.
Here in Australia, Commonwealth Bank have made the first move, selling an NFC enabled case, called an iCarte, that allows you to use your iPhone as your ‘wallet’. Or, at least make PayPass payments after you open the Kaching app. So how does it work?
One of the coolest (and hence, most hyped) uses of NFC would have to be the use of it for contactless payments.Just like your MasterCard or Visa card with PayPass or payWave.
The most widely known example of using your phone as your wallet is probably Google’s Wallet app. After installing it on your Android phone, you’re all set to tap away.
But the problem with Google Wallet is that Google wants to control the whole experience, so you can only install it officially on a handful of devices, has only integrated tightly with Citibank, and so only a handful of customers can actually use Google Wallet.
Thanks to the internet however, it’s possible to shoehorn Google Wallet on to devices that aren’t ‘technically’ supported and tap away.
Since grabbing my Galaxy Nexus, Wallet was one of the most exciting things I was looking forward to trying, and surprisingly getting it going wasn’t much effort at all.