Barclays Bank is an international bank with a British high street, retail presence. Barclays have just relaunched their own take on a contactless payment technology, bPay. bPay is going to go head to head with the other contactless payment systems available including the international Apple Pay and Android Pay plus those offered by local businesses for their local markets. However, Barclays' have avoided the temptation to insist that bPay is only for Barclays and instead have introduced it into the market as an additional means of paying for something with three ways to utilize the technology. The bPay offering is essentially another account or wallet that may be topped up from your main account; this means that the technology could perhaps be given to a child with an allowance present in the account. Barclays' requirements for a bPay digital wallet are relaxed: anybody aged 13 or over and with a UK debit or credit card from Visa or MasterCard is effectively good to go.
Barclays' offering gives customers the choice of a wristband, a key fob or a sticker, which dramatically increases the flexibility for customers. The wristband is simply worn around the wrist, much like a fitness tracker band, and it a great way to free up the pocket from a wallet. The key fob is as it sounds, a device to attach to a set of keys and the sticker may be stuck onto anything you might have with you, such as a smartphone. These gadgets will be on sale on the 1 July and the sticker is £14.99, the fob is £19.99 and the bPay band will be £24.99. For those iPhone owners without the very latest iPhone 6 models, attaching the sticker to the iPhone is a way to give your device something similar to contactless payment technology.
It is important for Barclays to keep a foot into the contactless payment market because otherwise, the carriers and mobile companies will muscle in, taking a share of the transaction costs involved. The bPay system is currently free to use and top up, as charges are carried by the retailer. There may also be a certain comfort in a financial institution introducing a contactless payment card system rather than a mobile carrier or device manufacturer, as money is their business rather than airtime or mobile devices. The bPay system is accepted in many retail stores plus compatible London Transport systems, currently the London underground and London buses. Because the technology does not require a PIN or signature, there is currently a £20 transaction limit on the bPay system, which increases to £30 in September. If the account sticker, fob or band is stolen, customers can quickly cancel it using either the website or the bPay app on a smartphone.