A1

Headquarters: 
Austria

Austria’s largest mobile operator is also a European pioneer in mobile commerce.

A1, formerly known as mobilkom Austria, was one of the first telcos anywhere to start its own financial institution, A1 Bank, in 2002.

The banking license enables subscribers to pay parking fares, transit tickets and make Internet purchases on computers using their mobile phones and mainly SMS. The charges usually appear on subscribers’ phone bills.

A1, part of the Telekom Austria Group, began enabling subscribers to buy SMS-based transit tickets with their mobile phones in 1999, even before starting the bank. And in 2001, it launched an Austrian branch of German-based mobile payment platform Paybox, which later allowed for interoperable mobile-payment services with other Austrian mobile operators.

In September 2007, mobilkom introduced phones that support NFC, which reduces the steps necessary for subscribers to buy the SMS tickets on Austria’s national railway and Vienna’s metro. It also enables subscribers to tap to buy snacks in vending machines and use other network-based commerce more quickly. The telco even created its own NFC target mark for the services.

The telco heralded the move as the first “rollout” of NFC services and said the ease of use NFC offers has increased m-commerce transactions. But the telco could only offer one handset, the Nokia 6131, to the public. It later added the 3G Nokia 6212 in early 2009. All told, it said it had sold about 40,000 of the NFC phones as of fall 2009, although it probably would have sold as many of these handset models in the non-NFC version.

A1 also launched a small trial putting transit ticketing on the embedded secure chip in the 6212, enabling Austrian national railway conductors to tap the phones to verify the tickets. That was not possible with the SMS-ticketing and enables mobilkom to allow subscribers to download higher-value tickets.

The telco plans to put the ticketing application on SIM cards it issues after NFC phones are available supporting the application. It will also likely put a credit card application on the SIMs, once contactless point-of-sale terminals are available in Austria.

A1 launched a conventional Visa-branded credit card in September 2009, which it later plans to make contactless. It could also move this contactless application to NFC phones.

And in April 2012, A1 announced it planned to roll out its own NFC payment brand, paybox NFC, an effort to expand its paybox online and mobile-parking payment scheme to the physical point of sale. It will face an uphill battle trying to establish the scheme.

Key figures: 
Customer Base 2009
2008 Change*
Subscribers 4.6 4.3 3.4%
Mobile, in millions, for June of year indicated *For unrounded figures
Key NFC Personnel: 
Christoph Kössler, senior product manager and project lead for paybox NFC
Major NFC and Contactless competitors: 

T-Mobile Austria, Orange

Last Updated: 
Apr 2012
Author: 
Balaban

HEADLINE NEWS

Spanish Airline Adds NFC Card Tapping to Mobile Booking App

Spanish airline Vueling has added an NFC feature to its mobile application, allowing users to tap a contactless card with an NFC handset to fill in part of their card data, which they could then use to book a flight with the app.

OTI Announces Wave Attachment for Taiwan, but Actual Deployment Small

Israel-based NFC vendor On Track Innovations has announced the deployment of its NFC-enabled Wave smartphone attachment in Taiwan, targeted for the iPhone, though only 10,000 units are being distributed, and Apple has not yet approved an iOS wallet app used with the devices for a planned mobile-payments service by Taiwanese banks, NFC Times has learned.

NFC Forum Working on Specification for Tags Supporting ISO 15693 Standard

NFC Times Exclusive – The NFC Forum is working on a tag Type 5 specification based on the ISO/IEC 15693 standard, NFC Forum executive director Paula Hunter has confirmed to NFC Times. She did not release a timeframe for publishing of the new specification, however.

Poland Seen as Testing Ground for HCE, Though Timetable for Commercial Launches Uncertain

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – With its high penetration of contactless POS terminals and strong use of contactless cards, payment networks, banks and telcos have seen Poland as a t

Broadcom Announces NFC Chip Aimed at Automotive Market as It Targets IoT

U.S.-based chip maker Broadcom announced it is sampling a new NFC chip targeting the automotive market.

Top 10 Misses for NFC in 2014; Project Backers Look to Recover Momentum in 2015

Jan 7 2015

NFC Times Exclusive – While the NFC industry saw a breakthrough in 2014 with the launch of Apple Pay, the year also was marked by a number of disappointments and missed opportunities.

Banking TSM Joint Venture Announces Launch of Service in Taiwan’s Fragmented NFC Market

NFC Times Exclusive Insight: TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan’s banking joint venture, Taiwan Mobile Payment Co., as expected, announced the launch of its TSM service Tuesday, with at least 32 Taiwanese banks planning to make their Visa- and MasterCard-branded payment cards available to be downloaded and provisioned by the TSM.

Taiwan’s Telco TSM Joint Venture Announces Launch Plans, but Faces Market Challenges

Dec 30 2014

NFC Times Exclusive Insight: TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan’s mobile operator TSM joint venture Thursday announced plans to launch NFC service in the second quarter, following a trial within the next few months–though it remains to be seen when the JV will be ready for a full-scale commercial launch.

RBC: HCE Pilot to Lead to 2015 Commercial Launch; But Bank Says it Will Keep Hybrid Payments Service

NFC Times Exclusive – The Royal Bank of Canada plans a commercial launch of host-card emulation in 2015 following a small employee pilot of HCE payments, but declined to specify a date, head of payments innovation Jeremy Bornstein told NFC times in an interview.

Mozido Acquires NFC and Wallet Vendor CorFire, Plans to Continue TSM

U.S.-based Mozido has acquired majority ownership of SK C&C USA, known as CorFire, giving the Austin-based supplier of cloud-based, white-label mobile payments and commerce products NFC technology.

Case Study: One Year on, Tim Hortons' HCE App Not Yet Available for Android Devices

NFC Times Exclusive – A year after its launch of closed-loop HCE NFC payments for BlackBerry 10 devices, Canadian-based coffee chain Tim Hortons has yet to roll out HCE for Android, continuing to offer only a bar-code-based version of the gift card service instead on non-BlackBerry platforms, although mobile app and HCE vendor Clearbridge Mobile says the BlackBerry launch received a positive response from customers.

TI’s NFC Sensor Transponder Latest Product to Target Wearables, IoT Markets

Dec 20 2014

U.S-based Texas Instruments said it expects to see prototype launches of devices using its recently launched NFC sensor transponder in the first quarter of 2015, as the U.S.-based chip maker seeks a larger stake in the promising markets for wearables, Internet of Things and industrial applications that sometimes require an NFC interface.