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Dutch Banks Form Group to Launch Large NFC Payment Pilot

The three major banks in the Netherlands, ING, ABN AMRO and Rabobank, have formed a temporary group to launch a large NFC trial in the Dutch city of Leiden with mobile operator KPN.

The banks and telco plan to launch the trial in the summer, targeting 1,000 users, according to an announcement today, which indicates that plans call for the trial to run through the end of 2013.

The banks said they would discontinue their partnership after the trial, as they roll out mobile payments, which appear to be targeted for 2014.

“We only cooperate to ensure that the user experience for our customers in the Netherlands is as much equal for all (as possible), to speed up the adoption of mobile payments,” a Rabobank spokesman told NFC Times. “During the trial, we (will) work only together with KPN for reduction of complexity, but afterwards all banks are free to cooperate with any or all operators.”

The cooperation among the banks follows the scrapping of a planned joint venture last July, an initiative known as Sixpack, that was to be a grouping of the country’s three major banks and its three largest mobile operators, KPN, Vodafone Netherlands and T-Mobile Netherlands.

T-Mobile earlier dropped out of the group and the other parties later abandoned the plan, citing anticipated complexities in managing the venture and expressing doubts they would be able to satisfy the concerns of regulators.

In view of the regulatory environment, the banks say that after the trial, they will not continue their more informal “Mobile Payment Netherlands” group announced today. They will make separate deals with mobile operators and trusted service managers when they roll out NFC mobile payment, said the Rabobank spokesman, in response to a question from NFC Times.

At the time they broke up the planned joint venture, the parties said they would continue to “cooperate for the introduction of mobile-proximity payments” and still planned to launch NFC in 2013, as before with the Sixpack initiative. They said they would “discuss an appropriate governance structure for their cooperation.”

But according to the release today announcing the trial and cooperative group among the banks, the trial could run through the end of 2013. It remains to be seen whether any Dutch telco or bank commercially launches NFC before the end of 2013.

The announcement indicates the banks will issue a debit application supporting MasterCard PayPass for the trial. The application would be loaded onto NFC SIM cards issued by KPN. The 1,000 users would be able to tap to pay at “many shops and restaurants” in the center of Leiden, said the announcement.

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