Malaysian Telco Maxis to Launch NFC Payment with iPhone Sleeve
Malaysian mobile operator Maxis plans to introduce the NFC-enabled iPhone attachment iCarte to offer contactless payment with the country’s Touch ‘n Go service.
The telco has not yet announced the launch, but recently made its Maxis FastTap app available for free download from Apple’s iTunes store and will soon offer the NFC-enabled sleeve for its iPhone-bearing customers.
Besides working with Touch ‘n Go, which is used in Malaysia for transit and parking fare payment, highway toll collection and some retail purchases, Maxis is partnering with CIMB Bank, which will enable customers to reload the Touch ‘n Go stored-value purse over the air to their iPhones if they have a CIMB bank account.
The FastTap service, mainly targeted at iPhone 4S users, will be a “limited commercial launch,” said a source, with some of the iCarte sleeves offered for free to customers while others will be put on sale. The telco plans to announce the service after it gets expected regulatory approvals.
Customers would be able to download the Mifare-based application to an embedded secure chip in the iCarte, which is made by Canada-based Wireless Dynamics. The vendor’s iCarte 420 also can be attached to both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 models. An older sleeve works with the iPhone 3G and 3S.
The iCarte introduction is seen as a prelude to the launch by Maxis of NFC services on full NFC phones, especially Android-based devices.
Maxis in 2009 launched what some consider the first commercial NFC mobile-payment service worldwide, running a Visa payWave credit application issued by large Malaysia-based bank Maybank, along with a Touch ‘n Go application.
That service, also called FastTap, remained very small because it had to make due with only one rather unappealing NFC phone, the Nokia 6212, which it put on sale to subscribers. The applications were stored on an embedded chip in the device.
Maxis is launching only Touch ‘n Go on the iCarte to begin with, since the application is well-used by consumers. But it is expected to add a contactless credit application for the iCarte and on its full NFC phones.
The iCarte carries a full NFC chip and an embedded secure element from NXP Semiconductors, which is why it can support Mifare technology.
Other telcos and banks have launched small commercial services with the iCarte, including South Korea’s KT Corp., Australia’s Commonwealth Bank and Turkish bank Yapı Kredi and operator Turkcell. The projects mainly involve contactless payment with Visa payWave or MasterCard PayPass applications.