HSBC to introduce HCE NFC payments on Android phones?

HSBC logo in Android Tap & pay settings
APP LOADED: The HSBC app logo is seen in Android’s Tap & pay settings page

There are signs that global bank HSBC could be preparing to roll out host card emulation (HCE) based NFC payments on Android devices in the UK, after an NFC World reader spotted that the HSBC mobile banking app now shows as an option under the “Tap & pay” menu in Android’s settings.

Reader Simon Hunter contacted NFC World to point out the recent appearance of an HSBC icon in Android’s native “Tap & pay” set-up screen.

“Just noticed this in my phone’s tap and pay option under settings,” he said. “The only other app I know that ever appears there is Google Wallet.”

NFC World was able to reproduce the result when loading the app onto a stock Nexus 5 running Android Lollipop and with a non-NFC SIM.

But no payment functionality exists yet. “Nothing much happens when touched on the card reader,” says Simon, who tried the phone against a contactless POS terminal. “The reader just rejects and says try again. The app doesn’t pop open or anything.”

HSBC is one of five UK banks expected to launch Zapp mobile payments this year via QR codes and NFC integrated into their own mobile banking apps.

HSBC’s mobile banking app is a global offering, with users selecting which country’s services they wish to access when they set it up.

The bank has not responded to requests for comment.