Near Field Communications (NFC) is in use in our daily lives more than we know, it’s the technology behind “paypass” and “paywave” or “tap-and-go” as we know it.  It’s also built into a huge number of Android, Windows and even Blackberry phones.  Yet Apple has given no indication that NFC will come to an iPhone near you soon – Today, the Commonwealth Bank introduced some technology from Mastercard that goes as close as you can get.

Commonwealth Bank's new re-designed app

Commonwealth Bank’s new re-designed app

Australia’s biggest bank has been innovating in the mobile space for many years, in any 20 minute space they will have on average 16,000 people login to the Commonwealth Bank online, 500 of whom are just checking their balance.  Today they relaunched their mobile app to improve the experience for the heavy and the casual users.

With a simple swipe you can view your balance, with a simple tap you can now pay your friends via email or even sms.  Their Kaching application is now tightly integrated into the single Commonwealth Bank app – but the real joy of today’s news is Tap-And-Go.

“Tap and Pay” as they call it is an icon available to all, you tap it, and register for a “PayTag”.  This will cost you $2.99 and be posted to you.

Commonwealth Bank PayTag stuck on the back of an iPhone

Commonwealth Bank PayTag stuck on the back of an iPhone

When you get it, it’s a credit card sized item.  But the bottom corner snaps off and the back has an adhesive label allowing you to literally stick it to the back of your phone.

Once purchased, you activate the PayTag and from then on you can simply tap your phone at a compatible point of sale to make payments up to $100.

The innovation from Commonwealth Bank takes the sticker style credit/debit card one step further.  From within the app you can actually determine which account the funds are paid from when you tap and pay.  This means you can actually change from your debit to your credit card on the go without needing a second sticker.

Importantly also you can turn off tap and pay with a simple button press – what this does is really tell the bank to decline any transaction using that PayTag.

Commonwealth Bank say the phone communicates with the tag, which seems true, but in reality the tag is fixed and each payment terminal sees it as a single “card” while back at bank HQ their computers are toggling the card to be linked to different accounts or disabled.

Frankly, it’s a stroke of genius, and has me contemplating changing banks!

Importantly, for the many phones that have NFC built into them – Android ones at least, the Commonwealth say their Tap and Pay system will work with that built-in NFC – however it will be available device by device – we suspect once they have tested it fully.

Coles PayTag sticker

Coles PayTag sticker

Coles today also announced a limited trial of Mastercard PayTag stickers which will link to their reward and payment system, we can expect plenty of other tap and go systems and banks to offer the stickers soon too – whether any of them can add the sophistication that the Commonwealth Bank has added is yet to be seen, for now though, Commonwealth Bank is the clear leader in this space.