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Which is the best contactless mobile payment service for UK customers?

Lou Hattersley | July 22, 2015
Apple isn’t alone in offering a contactless mobile payment service. Both Google and Samsung have announced upcoming rivals to Apple Pay, and Barclays is offering an alternative in the form of bPay. We look at the various mobile payment options available to UK customers, and help you decide which is the one for you.

More interesting than Google Wallet is Android Pay, which is Google's response to Apple Pay. Android Pay offers a similar service to Apple Pay, but for a much wider range of phones. It will essentially work with all Android 4.4 KitKat or later phones with NFC chips. And the list of companies offering contactless payment in the US is growing fast. Unfortunately, Google hasn't committed to a launch outside of the United States. It could be a long wait.

Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Samsung Pay vs Barclays bPay

One of the big names missing from the roster of banks offering or planning to offer Apple Pay support at the launch announcements was Barclays. (Barclays has since backpedalled somewhat, and now says it will support Apple Pay soon.) This initial reluctance to commit itself to Apple Pay may be related to the fact that Barclays has its own contactless payment system, called bPay.

bPay offers an interesting alternative to Apple Pay (and all the others we discuss above) because it enables you to upgrade any device to contactless payment. Well, sort of.

Barclays has three different bPay devices available:

bPay wristband (£24.99). Just tap your wrist to the contactless payment system to make a payment.bPay fob (£19.99). Attach to your key ring and tap to the contactless reader to pay.bPay sticker (£14.99). Stick to the rear of your phone (or phone case) and tap your phone to the contactless reader to pay.

The first thing to note is that you can use Barclays bPay with any bank card. You top up the amount on the devices using an app for iPhone or Android. You can top up to £200 on the system and then make payments. So while it's not a true bank system, like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, it is a convenient way to pay for things without digging out your cash card.

We're not sure if the sticker is worth £14.99, but we think the bPay wristband is a great way to tap for products. Payments are limited to £20, but you don't have to enter a PIN or use a fingerprint scanner to use them. Security is a potential worry, however, as we discuss in the following head-to-head.


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