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(Pocket-lint) - One of the technologies that still alludes the iPhone, even with the launch of the iPhone 5, is NFC - Near Field Communication. With it, a user can simply tap their phone on a compatible reader to pay for goods. The Samsung Galaxy S III has it, as do many other smartphones, but not iPhones.

Credit companies and banks, however, are constantly looking into ways to offer contactless payment services to mobile phone owners who don't have the technology built into their handsets.


Barclaycard has introduced PayTag, a small chipped card that sticks on to the back of any phone. And now it's the turn of Visa Europe, which has partnered with RBS (and, therefore, NatWest too), to offer the banks' iPhone 4 and 4S owning customers a case that will turn their smartphones into NFC-enabled devices.

TouchPay is initially available to a total of 1,000 RBS and Nat West customers taken from a pool of more than 9,000 who pre-registered, and will be available to all of the banks' users in "the near future".

It uses an iCarte NFC-enabled iPhone case which talks to a dedicated free TouchPay application. Through it, users can pay for transactions worth up to £20 without using their PIN at any contactless payment-enabled retailer. A PIN is required for transactions totalling more than £20, much like a normal credit/debit card.

"A key industry challenge in bringing mobile contactless payments to consumers is finding ways to enable existing smartphones that do not offer NFC technology," said Sandra Alzetta, senior vice-president and head of Mobile at Visa Europe.

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"Services like TouchPay show how NFC-enabled accessories for smartphones can deliver the future of payments today and help hasten mainstream adoption."

Have you tried NFC payment yet? If not, what's stopping you? Let us know in the comments below...

Writing by Rik Henderson.