Interactions of transactions

This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating.

It is likely that NFC has a role to play in the future of our interactions with infrastructures like payment, ticketing and access. But it is clear that mobile phones offer a different interface and experience to cash, cards, wallets and keys. So how should transactions be designed to take advantage of the change in interface?

One of the apparent changes is in the speed of transaction: the ability to simply touch a payment terminal with a mobile phone. There is also the ability to enter a pin number on one’s own device instead of using a terminal. With the ability to change the security level to suit individual requirements (or paranoia) this should allow payment interactions to work more efficiently and to be more secure. This is the advantage that has interested payments companies; the ability to process more customers.

But the simple assumption that increased efficiency makes an attractive new service has started to be questioned (see references). What kinds of interfaces would be ideal for transactions and how might they be implemented on the mobile phone? How might we add valuable new interactions, services or information into the transaction process that makes it more useful than simple payments?

Might there be other significant downsides as we expose our phone for every transaction? What about keeping a phone concealed for safety or the perceived risk of disclosing personal data by touching un-trusted objects?

In this project we would like you to study these emerging interactions around daily infrastructures. The project could start by studying the extensive marketing material on the proposed benefits of NFC from the mobile and payments industry. This study could form the basis of prototypes and scenarios that can be tested and evaluated by potential users. Another approach would be to design ideal ‘payment or ticketing objects’ for specific services, and to compare idealised designs with current implementations.

Of particular interest is the issue of control and visibility: the ability to control when and to whom one is transacting with; to see a history of transactions and to be able to act on that history.


Chau, P. Y. and Poon, S. 2003. Octopus: an e-cash payment system success story. Commun. ACM 46, 9 (Sep. 2003), 129-133. Link

Benjamin Lim, Heejin Lee and Sherah Kurnia. Why did an Electronic Payment System Fail? A Case Study from the System Provider’s Perspective. “The findings confirm the influence of EPS adoption factors identified from the literature, which include cooperation with established entities, simplicity, trust, security and mutuality of stakeholder benefits.” PDF

NFC mobile payments fail to inspire. “Rules adopted by the payment card organizations allowing U.S. consumers to make low-value purchases without signing receipts, tapping cards or other tokens to pay is not appreciably faster or more convenient than swiping the cards at the point of sale.”

Suica. “A rechargeable contactless smart card used as a fare card on train lines in Japan.”

Octopus card. “A rechargeable contactless stored value smart card used to transfer electronic payments in online or offline systems in Hong Kong.”

Mobile eCash’ could change the face of commerce “Cash or plastic? From starting with seashells, gold coins, and rewarding soldiers with salt, payment systems have evolved to keep lowering the cost of making each transaction, and separating the real item of value from the point of the transaction.”

Touchable services project: Place and product-based collaborative filtering.

See also Recent NFC news and links.

Read more about these design briefs.

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This entry was posted in Design briefs, Interaction design, Mobile, Payments, Ticketing. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Touch design briefs · Touch on 3 July 2007 at 17:55

    [...] Interactions of transactions [...]

  2. By Mobile payment demo · Touch on 25 July 2007 at 13:47

    [...] it’s good to see work that explores the details of the transaction interface (see our design brief). This video shows “A mobile payment demo using Welcome’s NFC applet integrated with a [...]

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