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Italian Bank Launches NFC Trial; Plans NFC and Remote Payment App

Italy’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, or BNL, has launched an NFC trial in Rome, with plans to expand to both online and offline mobile payments and loyalty.

BNL, part of France-based BNP Paribas group, launched the trial last week. The bank is putting a MasterCard PayPass credit application onto SIM cards issued by Vodafone Italia and Three Italy. The cards will run in the NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy S III, according to a presentation last week at the NFC & Mobile Money Summit by Arianna Azzolini, head of cards and daily banking at BNL and Bruno Prexl, payments innovation manager at BNP Paribas.

About 150 customers and employees will participate in the trial, which is scheduled to end in March.

Plans eventually call for the bank to introduce its mobile-payment app, YouPass, which all smartphones would support, including Apple's iPhone. 

The app would enable customers to make both remote and proximity payments, the latter with NFC, said the bank.

The presentation also said the app would support couponing, loyalty and other value-added services. It’s unclear whether the NFC pilot will feature any non-payment applications, however. 

In the trial, users will be able to tap to pay at PayPass terminals at what appears to be a limited number of merchant locations in Rome, including supermarket chains Eataly, Tuodi and Spar and books and music retailer, la Feltrinelli, according to the presentation. PayPass terminals would be available elsewhere.

The bank doesn't reportedly plan to launch NFC commercially until 2014. But the Italian NFC market is heating up, with plans by one of the country’s largest banks, Intesa Sanpaolo, to begin a commercial launch of its Move and Pay app in early 2013.

The bank is working with mobile operator Telecom Italia to roll out of SIM-based NFC payment in Italy, according to an agreement announced Oct. 24. Intesa said it would offer loyalty applications, as well.

The bank and telco will launch a trial before the end of 2012, according to their announcement. It’s not clear whether that trial is different from a multiapplication trial Telecom Italia announced last week.

Intesa has indicated it would support other Italian telcos, which likely would mean working with Vodafone Italia. The bank has said it would support both Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass.

Vodafone Italia earlier this month said it would launch NFC commercially in 2013, including putting its own co-branded PayPass application onto its SIMs.

 

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