Gulf Telco Plans to Launch NFC Payment Service on BlackBerrys

Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates’ largest telco, disclosed plans to introduce NFC payment to the Gulf state, putting a MasterCard PayPass application on SIM cards in at least one NFC-enabled BlackBerry model.

An announcement today by MasterCard Worldwide noted that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion would collaborate on the project along with France-based Oberthur Technologies, which is believed to be making the NFC-enabled SIMs.

RIM announced in August that Etisalat would be introducing its BlackBerry Bold 9900. A report by Reuters said today that this would be the first model supporting Etisalat’s NFC service, which would put a PayPass “debit prepaid” application on the phones. The name of the planned bank issuer, however, has not been released.

The report quoted Etisalat senior manager for m-commerce, Enrique Beza, as saying that the carrier hopes to reduce churn by offering the service. Etisalat is in a heated battle for subscribers with competing operator du, which together make up UAE’s telecom duopoly.

“Hopefully, by adding services, especially financial services, this is an application that our subscribers will appreciate and stay with us," he reportedly said, likely speaking at the Gitex computer and electronics trade show being held this week in Dubai.

It’s the first announcement of a planned NFC payment service using a BlackBerry phone. But while the Reuters report said Etisalat predicts the service will launch before the end of the year, it also noted that the payment service was pending approval from UAE government regulators.

In addition, the BlackBerry Bold and NFC-enabled SIM cards from Oberthur are still believed to be undergoing certification from MasterCard to carry a PayPass application–though MasterCard could grant a waiver to allow the service to launch.

But the biggest obstacle to an NFC payment rollout in the UAE–besides the shortage of NFC phones–is the scarcity of point-of-sale terminals accepting contactless payment.

Fewer than 2% of POS terminals in the country, or about 700 terminals, support PayPass, NFC Times has learned.

MasterCard was not available for comment on today’s announcement. Its release did not say when the service would launch.

Etisalat group, which has branch operators in 18 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, announced in July it had launched a “Touch and Go” NFC payment service with its subsidiary, Zantel, in Tanzania. The service, which also has MasterCard and Oberthur as partners, would add to Zantel’s mobile-banking service in the East African country.

The announcement didn’t mention the number of merchants that could accept NFC-based payments in Tanzania or phone models available, however. It did say a mobile adaptor would be available, likely Oberthur’s NFC bridge technology that uses a flexible antenna to connect to SIM cards in non-NFC phones.

RIM’s BlackBerry Bold 9900 has an embedded secure chip and also supports a single-wire protocol connection to the SIM. That is probably true of its NFC-enabled Curve, as well, which RIM also has introduced in a variety of markets.

MasterCard, in its announcement today, indicated the application on the Etisalat NFC phones would be a prepaid service, funded from users’ credit, debit or prepaid MasterCard card accounts. The consumers would be prompted to enter a PIN code on their mobile phones before completing a transaction, said MasterCard.

Yesterday, RIM’s co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, also speaking at Gitex in Dubai, announced that new NFC-enabled BlackBerrys would be able to transfer documents, contacts and other data in peer-to-peer mode with RIM’s BlackBerry Tag feature. The NFC phones would require an update to the BlackBerry 7 operating system on the phones to support the P2P feature.

HEADLINE NEWS

MasterCard Touts Host-Card Emulation Projects, as Buzz Returns to HCE

Mar 1 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Following a lull in attention on host-card emulation with the announcement and launch of Apple Pay in the latter half of last year, the buzz appears to be back on HCE, and among the latest organizations promoting it is MasterCard Worldwide.

MasterCard, EMVCo Working on ‘Payment Identifier’ to Help Merchants Track Consumers with Tokens

NFC Times Exclusive MasterCard Worldwide and EMVCo are working on a “payment identifier” that could cover all tokens for a particular card account issued to consumers, according to the payment network.

MasterCard Europe Touts Growth of Contactless in Europe and Promotes HCE for Mobile Payments

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Contactless payments in Europe, almost exclusively from cards, increased by more than 170% in the fourth quarter of 2014, MasterCard Europe has announced, and the payment network cited NFC payments projects in Europe as a positive sign, while promoting the prospect for host-card emulation-based launches.

Samsung to Acquire LoopPay to Launch Apple Pay Rival; Expected to Continue to Support NFC

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Samsung Electronics has signed an agreement to acquire mobile-payments start-up LoopPay, setting up a battle between Apple and Samsung in the U.S. over rival mobile-payments platforms, while raising the prospect for more fragmentation in the U.S.

On Track Innovations CEO Resigns; Failed to Cut Losses or Significantly Increase Share Value

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Israel-based contactless reader and NFC company On Track Innovations Tuesday announced the resignation of CEO Ofer Tziperman after less than two years on the job, with observers chalking up the exit to insufficient progress Tziperman has made in turning around the company’s finances and its low share price since a board takeover by dissident shareholders in late 2012.

LA Metro Plans to Launch Mifare-Based Mobile Ticketing on NFC Phones; Challenges Lie Ahead

NFC Times Exclusive – The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has issued a request for proposal with plans to launch an NFC pilot this year followed later by a rollout, putting the authority’s Mifare-based fare-collection application mainly on Android NFC phones.

Visa: Other Device Makers Besides Apple to Support Tokenization for Mobile Payments

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Visa today announced that other leading device manufacturers besides Apple would begin deploying its Visa Token Service this year, to “deliver secure mobile payments through their phones, tablets and other connected devices.”

Dutch Bank Launches NFC Payments on Embedded Secure Elements

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Dutch bank Rabobank has launched an NFC-enabled mobile wallet, storing a debit application on embedded secure elements in two older Samsung Android devices, which the bank claims is the first NFC mobile payments launch in the country.

Mozido Founder: Interest in HCE Running ‘9-to-1’ Over Secure Elements

Feb 12 2015

NFC Times Exclusive –U.S.-based white-label mobile payments and commerce vendor Mozido told NFC Times it is seeing significant interest in host-card emulation among prospective customers, though did not release any details on service providers considering the technology.

NXP Reports Big Jump in NFC Sales on Shipments to Apple; Looks to China for Added Growth in NFC Business

Sales in NXP Semiconductor’s emerging ID business, which mainly includes its NFC chips, soared in the fourth quarter, growing by more than 200%, compared with the same period a year earlier, thanks mainly to the roll out of Apple Pay.

Mozido Invests $2.5 million in HCE Vendor SimplyTapp, Adding to its TSM and Wallet Technology

Feb 6 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based Mozido, a supplier of cloud-based, white-label mobile payments and commerce products, upped its stake in NFC technology, making a $2.5 million investment in host-card emulation start-up SimplyTapp.

Broadcom Shows Strong Interest in IoT and Wearables; Still Sees NFC as an Opportunity

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Broadcom made only passing reference to NFC during a conference call Thursday to discuss the company’s fourth quarter and full-year earnings, although CEO Scott McGregor listed NFC as one of the technologies expected to help lead to growth in the company’s high-end connectivity business.