Disney Gets NFC Payments Right, Proves Wireless Payments Are the Future

In the Disney animated classic The Aristocats, the protagonists declare that everybody wants to be a cat. But lately, it seems like everybody wants to be a bank, including Apple with its Apple Pay service. The contactless payment market is huge and will certainly add to Apple's sizeable coffers over time. But there's another company that has contactless payment figured out, and that brings us back to Disney.

Related: How to Access the Wallet App from Your iPhone Lock Screen

I took my family to Disney World recently and naturally we had a great time. One of the highlights of this trip was the incorporation of Disney's MagicBand into the park entrances, FastPass+ ride reservations, and even personalized experiences in rides like It's a Small World and the Haunted Mansion, where because of Near Field Communication, the rides were able to display customized messages including your name and home town. It's a little big brotherish, but in Disney World, you "let it go" in favor of enjoying the magic. The PhotoPass photographers also scanned our MagicBands to make their photos accessible online. Of course, this being Disney, you can buy MagicBands with different designs, including limited editions,  personalize one with your name (including Star Wars Aurebesh lettering), and add sliders and other accessories!

But those Magic Bands have another feature You can pay with them. Using Disney e-commerce was nearly frictionless in my experience—maybe too frictionless, looking back at my charges at the end of the trip! You hold your MagicBand over a device at the cash register and enter a four-digit PIN. That PIN is important because we both found someoneelse's MagicBand, and lost one of our own (which was returned.) Without the PIN, it could have been expensive.

That brings us to Barclays. The venerable banking institution has adopted Apple Pay but it is also offering its own contactless system and watchband accessory. The Loop slips on your favorite watchband (though it would clash with something fancy) and lets you pay where bPay is accepted. There is no pin, however, so there is e a limit of about $40 per transaction. That's probably fine for small purchases, but it wouldn't let you fill up your car with gas. You still use a mobile app to manage the balance, which can be automatically replenished. It's more like a debit card you wear on your watch or fitness band.

Whatever payment system you use, based on my experience at Disney, you can expect to pay more for more things using NFC as more retailers accept them and there is less friction with each purchase.

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.