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UK government, operators and banks agree NFC payments rules

New fraud prevention guidelines aim to ‘design out opportunities for crime and reduce harm to consumers,’ says the UK’s Home Office.

GUIDELINES: "an effort to design out opportunities for crime" in contactless payments
GUIDELINES: 'an effort to design out opportunities for crime' in contactless payments

The UK government, mobile phone operators and card payments players have agreed on a set of guidelines aimed at preventing criminals from abusing stolen phones equipped to make NFC-based debit, credit or prepaid card payments.

“In an effort to design out opportunities for crime and reduce harm to consumers the government has been working with industry to ensure the technology builds in tough security measures at the earliest stages,” says the Home Office. “Working with the government, the mobile phone and banking industry have agreed to a set of guidelines. They have committed to ensuring consumers are not put at an increased risk due to the development of this technology, especially young people who are often the earliest adopters of technology and suffer from disproportionate risk.”

The guidelines cover:

  • Ensuring contactless payment functions, SIM cards and phones will be disabled as soon as possible once a contactless payment mobile phone is reported lost or stolen
  • Any transactions above the maximum contactless payment value (currently £10) will require verification, such as a pin code, similar to the current guidelines that underpin existing contactless card payment schemes. Additional security such as pin codes will also be required if more than a certain number of low-value transactions are carried out in quick succession
  • any customer who signs up for a contactless payment phone will be encouraged to add their details on the National Mobile Property Register to make it easier for stolen phones to be identified and recovered.

“These guidelines are an important step forward in protecting the public from criminals,” says Home Office minister Alan Campbell. “I am pleased that the mobile and banking industries have worked with us to ensure that the public are protected at the earliest opportunity.”

“This technology is an exciting new development but we must continue to work together to reduce any new opportunities for criminals to profit from mobile theft,” the minister continued. “As new technologies like this develop we aim to consider where safeguards can be incorporated at the drawing board stage.”

“We have welcomed the opportunity to engage in discussions with the Home Office, the mobile phone industry, Visa and MasterCard at this early stage, to ensure that principles around customer protection are agreed across the board,” added Paul Marsh, director of The UK Cards Association. “The payments industry is sensitive to customer concerns’ about security and has always set high standards for its products; any new payment solutions will be developed with precisely this in mind.”

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