China Mobile Plans Commercial NFC Launch in 2013
China Mobile reportedly plans to sell 10 million 3G NFC phones next year and to sign up 3 million users, according to a presentation by the telco’s vice general manager for e-commerce Wednesday at the NFC & Mobile Money Summit.
Xiong Hui, in a keynote discussing the giant telco’s NFC rollout plans, also said eight handset makers would have NFC phones available for a large trial China Mobile plans to launch in February and perhaps later for its NFC commercial launch, according to a published report by the GSMA mobile operator trade group, which organized the conference, in Milan, Italy.
Xiong said the NFC trial would expand to 12 provinces, with a commercial launch expected to begin later in 2013.
He mentioned six of the eight handset brands in his presentation and the quarter in which they would have an NFC model available in China: Samsung Electronics, Q3, 2012; HTC, Q3, 2012; Huawei, Q4, 2012; ZTE, Q4, 2012; Lenovo, Q1, 2013; and Coolpad (Yulong Telecommunication) Q1, 2013, according to the report.
As NFC Times reported in September, China Mobile is gearing up for the launch of SIM-based NFC services, starting with the major trial, which would extend to a number of cities and use several Android-based NFC phones.
The plans call for China Mobile to offer its own mobile wallet and to trial payment and possibly other services, such as local transit fare collection, access control and mobile banking.
An internal presentation given by a China Mobile executive last summer said the telco at the time was considering at least five Android handsets for the project, including versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X. The presentation also described three domestic NFC phones, with brands to be determined later.
All would support Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, or above, under the plan, and would also support China’s domestic 3G technology, TD-SCDMA or TD-HSDPA.
Xiong is China Mobile’s point man for the telco’s NFC rollout. According to the GSMA report of his presentation Wednesday, one TS-SCDMA handset maker planned to put NFC in 50% of its TD-SCDMA handsets 2013. He did not reportedly name the manufacturer.
The trial and later service would include a contactless payment application, Quick Pass, from China’s large payment network, China UnionPay.
China Mobile and China UnionPay announced an agreement in June, in which the two players said they would work together on product development, technical standards, trusted service management, interoperability and common promotion of mobile payment.
The cooperation agreement includes using SIM cards as secure elements and would put UnionPay’s Quick Pass contactless application onto the SIMs. UnionPay has also rolled out hundreds of thousands of contactless point-of-sale terminals in China.
UnionPay has already launched payment on microSD cards in NFC-enabled phones, and might continue to pursue the separate technology in certain markets in China.
Besides the phones listed by China Mobile's Xiong, Chinese mobile operators and also the payment network UnionPay are considering rolling out low-cost Android NFC phones from Chinese handset makers next year.