It should first of all be noted that this is only the first European prepaid NFC wallet for the iPhone. NatWest trialled an NFC-enabled wallet for customers with iPhones last year, but this was linked directly to a bank account.
No current iPhones have NFC built-in, so a case is required. Moneto currently offer three cases for the iPhone 4 family: the iCaisse 4L, Cashwrap 4 or the iCaisse 4X which includes an extended battery. iPhone 5 cases should be available by September. We were given a demonstration of an older prototype of the iCaisse 4X.
The iCaisse 4X includes a 1200mAh removable battery in addition to the NFC hardware. The battery used is actually based on Nokia's BL-4D model, so finding extras should be no problem.
What's unique to Moneto's service is that it's currently the only MicroSD-based payments service in the UK. This means that, unlike the services offered by telecommunications networks, the secure element is located in a MicroSD card rather than a SIM card.
This opens the service to a larger amount of potential users, regardless of the mobile network that they're subscribed to.
In terms of payments, there are actually two options available to users of the Moneto wallet. There's of course the mobile NFC payment option, which worked perfectly in Pret a Manger. Tapping the iPhone onto the NFC-enabled POS terminal completed the transaction as expected, with the correct amount being deducted and the business name appearing in the Moneto transaction history menu immediately.
There's also a physical card that comes with all Moneto packs. This is a PayPass-enabled MasterCard that's directly linked to the user's prepaid account. It can be used for purchases instore and online, with transactions also being visible in the Moneto iPhone application.
One slight issue is the bulkiness of the case. However, this is the version with an extended battery. We were informed that the standalone NFC cases are much more inconspicuous.
AndroidWe were told that the Android version of Moneto's services should be available "around September" in the UK. The Android service would simply need an NFC-enabled Android phone with a MicroSD card slot. Moneto's Android MicroSD cards will be available in multiple storage sizes.
It's great to see more NFC-enabled mobile wallets launching in the UK. Moneto's service is simple to use and unique in its separation from mobile networks. However, we're not sure if iPhone users are the right target market for this service. It's strange that the iOS and Android services didn't launch at the same time, but hopefully the Android service will be just as easy to use as the iOS version.
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