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

Alipay to Expand Acceptance of Mobile Wallet in Russia

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Alipay is expanding acceptance in another overseas market, Russia, seeking to capture business from Chinese tourists who travel to the country.

Apple Discloses Plans for Four More Apple Pay Markets; Confirms Most Transactions Outside of U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple Tuesday disclosed plans to launch its mobile payments service in four more small markets, including three countries in the Nordics, with the tech giant seeing higher usage of Apple Pay outside of the U.S., where NFC-enabled POS terminals are still not widely available.

As Use of Wallets for In-Store Payments Disappoint, P2P Payments to Surpass $120 Billion in 2017

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Research firm eMarketer predicts that mobile peer-to-peer payments in the U.S. will grow by 55% to more than $120 billion in 2017, an amount that is expected to double by 2021.

Mastercard Launches Campaign to Push New Zealand Retailers to Accept Contactless Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Mastercard has launched an initiative to encourage retailers in New Zealand to adopt contactless payments, noting that nearly three-quarters of New Zealanders use contactless.

Banks and PayPal Announce More Deals for In-Store Transactions, But It’s Unclear When NFC-Enabled PayPal Wallet Will Arrive

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Although Bank of America announced that its customers would “soon” be able to use the PayPal Wallet to pay for purchases in stores using NFC, a bank spokeswoman has told NFC Times that the NFC-enabled wallet might not even be available next year.

Experts: Don’t Expect the Amazon Go or Uber Payments Concept to Hit the Retail Chains Anytime Soon

NFC TIMES Exclusive – With the widespread use of Uber and launch of the Amazon Go experiment, some payments industry observers are predicting it might not be too long before invisible payments comes to brick-and-mortar stores.

Swatch Pay One of the First Low-Tech Payments Wearables That Can be Provisioned After the Sale: How It Works

Jul 21 2017

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While such smartwatches as the Apple Watch are routinely provisioned with payments cards after they are in the hands of consumers, that hasn’t been the case for low-tech analog watches. Swatch Pay could change that.

Analysis: Apple Tries to Jump-Start Apple Pay in China with Generous Week-Long Discounts and Offers

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – ­Apple, which is losing its battle badly for market share in China’s huge mobile payments market, has launched one week of generous promotions in hopes it can begin to turn the tide.

PayPal Hopes Samsung Deal Will Help It End String of Failures in Tapping Offline Merchants

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – PayPal is believed to have cut its deal with Samsung to be part of the Samsung Pay wallet mainly to gain access to the device maker’s MST technology, enabling consumers to pay in stores with their PayPal accounts without having to look for an NFC-enabled POS terminal.

Backers of WeChat Pay and Alipay Continue to Expand Acceptance Outside of China

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – China’s two large mobile payments services, Alipay and WeChat Pay, continue to roll out acceptance in Europe, North America and other parts of Asia, as they follow Chinese tourists to these destinations.

Denmark’s Largest Bank Plans to Expand Reach of Its Growing MobilePay Wallet; Continues to Favor BLE over NFC and QR Codes

NFC TIMES Exclusive –  Danske Bank’s MobilePay service in Denmark is one of the few mobile-wallet success stories globally, though on a small scale. Now the bank is planning to expand to other Nordic countries and seeks to continue to use BLE technology, not NFC, to enable the in-store piece of its mobile payments service.

Despite Launch of Three Major ‘Pays’ in Taiwan, Visa Plans to Also Support QR Code Payments on Island

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Visa says it plans to support QR code-based mobile payments late next year in Taiwan–a market where all three major “Pays” wallets have launched supporting Visa-branded cards with NFC.