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Who do I need to sleep with to get NatWest TouchPay?

I just came across this new offering from NatWest: It’s called TouchPay and, well, it does-what-it-says-on-the-tin. The service uses an iCarte case for your iPhone (or, theoretically any phone) to replace a PayWave compatible credit card. The logic being that you carry your phone with you everywhere and it would be a) mega convenient and b) super cool to be able to swipe your phone at your local retailer.

It’s sadly still a trial, limited to 1,000 folk. And, it seems, the registration opportunity has come and gone. I missed it completely. Total arse.

Apparently you’re able to see everything you’ve purchased via TouchPay via the dedicated app (that you’d need to install on your iPhone 4/4S). In time I expect that’ll be integrated into the main banking app.

I believe it’s Visa underpinning everything — indeed I saw almost exactly the same solution demonstrated a little while ago when I visited Visa Europe’s HQ. The challenge Visa were having at that point was finding an enterprising institution to get on with it and get the service out into the hands of consumers. NatWest are certainly burnishing their reputation as a mobile banking innovation powerhouse with the introduction of this trial. I’m already ridiculously impressed with their Business Banking app (read about my experience here). Every time I see a headline featuring poor Stephen Hester (the bank’s CEO) apologising for the state of RBS, I feel compelled to point out to people that the company is actually moving mountains in the mobile world. Indeed I’d go so far as to state that RBS/NatWest is clearly one of the planet’s most forward thinking organisations from the point of view of mobile banking.

There’s a downside with TouchPay, though. It’s an image one. If you want to be able to swan into Pret a Manger and pay for your sandwich with a swipe of your phone, you need to use the iCarte case.

This is fake smile territory. That is, it doesn’t look that good. Oh it’s ‘ohh-kay’. Just… what’s the point of all that suave Johnny Ive design if it’s obscured by a rather bog-standard case? 😉

It’s hardly a big problem though. I do really want to be able to wave my phone around to pay for stuff. So it’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make.

I would like to suggest that NatWest give a bit of thought to getting some “PayTag” First Data style stickers that I could simply attach to the back of my phone (any phone, obviously) and get the same functionality, similarly to what the team over at Barclaycard are doing.

If you’re one of the lucky few playing with TouchPay, do let us know how you’re getting on with it.

(While I’m here, I think it’s about time I called out the RBS consumer team for having the temerity to exist when the Business team is putting them to shame with the business app. There’s no excuse. How come I have to login with the business app to get the good stuff?)

(One more cathartic point: Could someone give a giant slap to the team in charge of NatWest online banking — the web based version. Utter pants. The mobile team are putting you to shame.)

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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