Head of research and development at Tesco.com Nick Lansley says near field communication (NFC), the technology behind contactless payments, needs to mature before it will be useful for retailers.

Lansley said at the Retail Week conference today that the technology may take off, but that there’s some work to do on it first: “It may well follow chip and pin if customers think it’s a good idea. But it’s not as secure as some people make it out to be.”

He said it is possible to tune into the radio frequencies that transmit data from a customer’s mobile phone to the retailer’s card scanner, and that there’s more work to be done.

“Like RFID, it needs to mature. I’m not going to use any NFC, except Oyster card, until somebody sorts more of this out. It’s a solution looking for a problem, and it’s not a very good solution.” He added he was talking personally rather than speaking for the company.

CEO of etailer M&M Direct Steve Robinson said it would make more sense to develop a payment technology that relies on generating a single barcode for a transaction on a mobile phone screen, because retailers already have barcode scanning technology.

“I think maybe technology is getting ahead of itself,” he said. “I don’t know why people have moved into wireless and contactless. I’m surprised there isn’t more use of a barcode on a screen.”

Mobile operators are investing in the technology, with rumours circulating that Apple’s iPhone 5 to be released this summer will have NFC embedded.