Use your mobile phone as a debit card

Mobile phone with pound coins

Shoppers can now use their mobile phones on the high street to make purchases up to £15.

The 'Quick Tap' system works in the same way as paying with a contactless debit card but you will need a specially designed handset to make payments.

There are over 50,000 stores with contactless readers including, Pret A Manger, Little Chef, Wilkinson, EAT, Subway and some Tesco branches but more retailers are expected to follow.

The payment system will work in a similar way to a pay-as-you-go phone contract and you can add on money each month (to a maximum of £100) but each individual transaction can't cost more than £15.

Described as "an entirely new, secure and convenient way to make payments", the company behind the technology is Near Field Communication (NFC) which has also been involved with the development of contactless debit cards.

Not available to all

However, the new technology isn't available to everyone. To use the Quick Tap system you currently need to be on the Orange Network and have an account with Barclaycard. However more companies are expected to sign up. You'll also need the only NFC-enabled handset, the new Samsung Tocco Lite.

The system will be simple to operate. Users will have to pre-load some cash onto the phone before they can start spending and statements will be available onscreen so you can check exactly what you've spent and your balance.

As an incentive Barclaycard is currently giving Orange customers who sign up the system £10 cashback once they've activated their account.

Michelle Whiteman, spokesperson for the UK Payments Administration, says consumers are very keen to use the system and 42% of smartphone users would be happy to use the new technology, according to a study from YouGov.

She says the Quick Tap system has exactly the same security precautions as any other payment method and as you can only pay for items up to £15 she says this is a major deterrent to fraudsters. As with any fraudulent transaction, you are covered in exactly the same way and any money stolen will be refunded, unless you are believed to have been responsible.

If the account registers any random activity you will be asked to enter the pin number to check your identity and Whiteman says it won't be long before other companies introduce the same technology and "before long we could be making payments from our bank accounts on our mobile phones."