German Bank to Launch Mobile-Payment Trial with microSDs and iPhone
German bank Landesbank Berlin will trial mobile payments using microSD cards and a contactless attachment for the iPhone, the bank announced today.
Update (Jan 5): The bank said it will issue the microSDs supporting a Visa payWave application, which a limited number of employees of the bank and Visa Europe-Germany employees will be able to tap for purchases of up to €25 (US$32.42) without PIN or signature. End update. There is an option in the iPhone app that would require the customer to enter a password on the phone before each payment.
The trial will use microSDs and contactless iPhone cases or sleeves made by U.S.-based DeviceFidelity. The cases, called iCaisse, contain a contactless antenna and chip and microSD card slot.
Landesbank customers will be able to tap the iPhones to pay where Visa payWave is accepted, although Germany is not one of Europe’s contactless hotspots, like the United Kingdom, Turkey and Poland, so there are few, if any, locations inside Germany itself that accept payWave yet.
Representatives from neither the bank nor Visa Europe were available today to provide additional information, so it was not clear how many customers will participate in the trial and when it would begin. Update (Jan. 5): Swiss Post Solutions, which personalizes cards for Landesbank Berlin, will also be involved in the trial. End update.
Visa Europe late last month said six banks, including Landesbank Berlin, would roll out payWave by mid-2012, mainly on dual-interface EMV debit and credit cards. In today’s announcement, Landesbank Berlin said it also planned to “implement contactless payments via mobile phones nationwide next year.” Update: But Tilo Schürer, head of direct marketing for the bank, told NFC Times the timing of an NFC rollout is not set.
“The full rollout depends on the availability of full NFC-phones from either the mobile network operators (USIM) or from Apple or Google,” he said. “Currently neither of these options is available in the German market.” End update.
Update (Jan. 5): Visa Europe in Germany estimates there will be 500,000 payWave cards issued and 2,000 payWave acceptance locations in Germany by the end of this year. But Visa has yet to announce any merchants in Germany that accept payWave. End update.
It wasn’t clear whether Landesbank intends to implement contactless-mobile payments using microSDs or full NFC phones. The latter, in Germany, would likely require the bank to put its payment application onto SIM cards issued by mobile operators. The contactless microSDs, either in the iPhone or other smartphones, do not contain full NFC chips so can only be used in card-emulation mode.
Contactless microSDs are considered a bridge technology until more NFC phones are available–though some banks might prefer rolling out microSDs instead of using NFC phones because the microSDs would allow them to avoid working directly with mobile operators. Some banks also are trialing an iPhone attachment called the iCarte.
Visa Inc. and Visa Europe have helped organize trials using contactless microSDs in the United States, France, Turkey, Australia and South Africa.