Contactless payment methods can be used to pay for things even when they are nearly a meter away from a payment terminal, according to research from a team at Surrey University in the UK.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is in-use on more recent mobile phones (such as Android devices) and on contactless debit/credit cards issued by UK banks. The researchers say they were able to receive a contactless transmission from distances of 45-80 cm (17-31 inches) using inconspicuous objects, Techworld and CIO report.

The team used portable, inexpensive and easily concealable objects, including a pocket-sized cylindrical antenna, a backpack and a shopping cart, none of which would raise suspicion in a supermarket check-out line or a crowded area.