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NatWest seeks volunteers to bonk with their iPhones

Hurry, only 1,000 NFC payment cases up for grabs

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NatWest is asking volunteers to test its pay-by-bonk service on their iPhones, and is looking for 1,000 of its customers willing to wrap their iPhone in an iCarte case with embedded NFC.

The trial was slipped quietly out on NatWest website, and spotted by NFC World. The iCarte case has been knocking around since 2009, and has been trialled in Chicago and Salt Lake City, but as far as we're aware this is the first time the UK public has been asked to bonk with an iPhone.

The trial is only open to those already banking with NatWest, and already equipped with an iPhone 4 or 4S, but anyone fitting that description is invited to register their interest in taking part. If selected they'll get an iCarte case to wrap their iPhone in, and an app to manage their TouchPay interactions.

The app will only work anywhere normal contactless cards are accepted (an ever-increasing number of places, though shopkeepers aren't always aware of it) but only for four months, after which NatWest says the iCarte case will stop working but won't need to be returned.

The technology itself is old news - the iCarte case includes not only the NFC (Near Field Communications) radio need to make the payments, but also the secure element which stores the cryptographic keys necessary to authenticate the user. As with any contactless system in the UK, payments are limited to £20 a time and fraud remains the responsibility of the bank - assuming one can demonstrate to the bank's satisfaction that fraud has been committed. ®

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