Next-gen contactless payments are coming to iPhones and Android – here's what's new

A hand making a contactless payment with a smartphone at a shop terminal
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Nattakorn_Maneerat)

Most of us make smartphone contactless payments on a daily basis without thinking about it, but a next-gen version of the tech is now en route for iPhones and Android phones.

The NFC Forum, which counts Apple, Google, Qualcomm and Sony among its board members, has just outlined a new version of the tap-to-pay tech called Multi-Purpose Tap, which it claims will "revolutionize the contactless user experience". More realistically, it'll likely make the shopping experience a bit more convenient, but we're certainly all for that.

As the name suggests, Multi-Purpose Tap will let you make do multiple things with one single tap of your phone, rather than stopping at a simple payment. For example, you'd be able to pick up loyalty points or other promotions while paying for things in shops, with one tap. A similar example is your phone automatically verifying your age when you're buying things like alcohol. 

Other scenarios envisaged by the NFC Forum include getting discounts or concessions while buying travel tickets, or receiving information about "how a product can be recycled and reused when buying goods". While that last one sounds useful, hopefully Multi-Purpose Tap doesn't also open the door to us getting spammed by related info when making contactless payments.

Good news and bad news

Two people using contactless mobile payments

(Image credit: . Oleksii Halutva)

Some of the ideas outlined in the NFC Forum's Multi-Purpose Tap plan certainly sound useful. Not having to carry separate loyalty cards, or wait for paper receipts to be printed, are small upgrades that could reduce some friction in our shopping lives – and that's always good news for shops, too.

On the other hand, getting related information or marketing alerts beamed to our smartphones during the simple act of paying for something sounds less beneficial for consumers, so there would need to be settings on iPhones and Android phones to customize the experience and protect our privacy.

The other slight downside right now is that there's no expected launch timeframe for Multi-Purpose Tap to roll out, as it's still at its early "first overview" stage. We've asked the NFC Forum for an estimate and will update this story if we get one. 

Still, the potential for receipts, loyalty cards, discounts, age identification and tickets on our phones seems too great for the concept to not gain some momentum. So hopefully the real world specifics will be ironed out soon and we'll be sailing through checkouts even quicker than we do now.

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Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.