The head of research and development on Tesco.Com has said that near field communication, or NFC, needs to “mature more” before it becomes safe for retailers to use.

NFC is a wireless technology that allows consumers to pay for products by touching a card or mobile phone to a reader, much in the same way as Barclaycard’s contactless payments, or the Oyster cards used on the London Underground.

Speaking at the Retail Week conference yesterday (17 March), Nick Lansley said that NFC may take off in the retail sector but that the technology is “not as secure as some people make it out to be”.

Lansley said it is possible to tune into the radio frequencies that transmit the data from a customer’s mobile phone to the retailer’s card scanner.

He compared NFC to RFID, describing them as a “solution looking for a problem, rather than a problem looking for a solution.”

Lansley said Tesco is committed to offering customers the opportunity to access its site on whatever technology platform they use – from computers, through to smartphones, and not just Apple‘s line of iPhones.

He compared Tesco’s emphasis on offering a broad range of platforms to access its site to offering baby changing facilities in its stores.

“We’re in a service industry,” he emphasised. “We don’t need to offer baby changing facilities, but it helps that group of customers shop. It may or may not show up on the bottom line. But it’s important to try to see what customers think.”

He said that works in an “agile” manner and it would rather deliver incremental improvements than start from scratch, as it has to work with the retailer’s legacy systems.

Lansley emphasises that the retailer is keen to “experiment” with bringing its offer to as many platforms as possible, because, even if only a few customers take it up immediately, more “may pick it up in a year”.