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The technology for mobile phones to make contactless payments with a simple tap is now here, and predicted to account for £151 billion by 2013. This provides great user benefits but could mean mobile phones are more of a target for crime.

Minima and Proxama Ltd were one of the three winning teams in the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council, with support and funding from the Technology Strategy Board. The focus of the project was to create a way of making mobile phone payments (m-commerce) more secure as well as detailing the service offer and user experience of the solution.


In initial research conducted by Minima, there was reluctance from some in the target market to the idea of m-commerce – security being a prime concern.

In addressing these concerns, Minima were able to demonstrate in subsequent research with the design solution a dramatic reversal in attitudes. So much so that while the TouchSafe concept is the key to access mobile phone wallets it could also be a tool to attact users to m-commerce.


Working closely with consumer payment software specialists Proxama Ltd, Minima made use of the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology employed in mobile payments to help make access to Proxama’s phone-based electronic wallet more secure.

The simple solution was derived from extensive innovation on a number of concepts. Minima organised a series of user trials to establish the most successful format. The resulting service product was ‘TouchSafe’ – a mini-card carried or worn by the user, who discreetly taps their phone to the hidden card to authorise access and open the mobile wallet in a swift, seamless gesture. Waving the phone to the card rather than the card to the phone was a key usability insight that not only gave a deceptively simple user experience but also produced a transaction speed faster than that of using either cash or chip and pin.

Along with creating the service product, we developed a range of holders, card patches and key fob accessories to show how easily the card could be incorporated into user lifestyles.

A demonstration of the ‘Touchsafe’ service was shown at the 2010 World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.

UK Home Office Minister, Alan Campbell, commented on the project: ‘I believe the solutions developed by this challenge have the potential to be as successful as previous innovations like chip and pin, which reduced fraud on lost or stolen cards to an all-time low, and would encourage industry to continue working with us and take them up.’

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