Orange Poland Unveils Plans for NFC Payments Service; T-Mobile to Follow This Week
Polish mobile operators Orange and T-Mobile this week are unveiling their NFC services, which will focus on contactless payment supporting MasterCard PayPass.
Orange Poland, a branch of the France Telecom-Orange group, announced plans for its NFC launch today, beating the planned announcement Thursday by the Deutsche Telekom branch operator T-Mobile in Poland, formerly called PTC, NFC Times has confirmed.
Both launches are expected to put the PayPass applications on the telcos’ SIM cards and, at least in the case of Orange, have the co-branded mark of the telco. The T-Mobile launch could include other Polish banks, NFC Times has learned. Both telcos hope to make use of the high penetration of point-of-sale terminals supporting contactless payment–estimated at almost a third of total bank card acceptance points in the country–according to MasterCard Worldwide in today’s announcement.
Orange calls the prepaid application “Orange Cash,” which would be issued by BRE Bank. The bank operates under the mBank and MultiBank brands and is a major issuer of PayPass and Visa payWave cards. The bank would use its mBank brand for the Orange service.
The bank will offer incentives to encourage customers to sign up for the service: The first 20,000 registered users will receive a 15 zloty (US$4.75) bonus in their prepaid Orange Cash accounts. And those customers who open a new current account at BRE’s mBank and top-up the prepaid Orange Cash card with this new account will receive a refund of 50% of the top-up amount, up to 50 zlotys (US$15.81) per month.
Orange Poland said its service would begin Nov. 1, and project organizers have a goal of 30,000 Orange Cash accounts this year and many more next year, a source told NFC Times. BRE has 2.3 million mobile-banking customers, about 400,000 of which access their accounts frequently, the bank told NFC Times. Orange Poland launched a SIM-based NFC trial in March 2011 with 2,000 participants, using the 2G Samsung S5230 NFC phone.
UPDATE: T-Mobile is not expected to issue its own prepaid application supporting PayPass in Poland, as earlier reported. T-Mobile's parent Deutsche Telekom is expected to do so–with its ClickandBuy online payment unit–next year in Germany. ClickandBuy has its own e-money license.
In Poland, T-Mobile is expected to work with Polbank for the NFC launch. BRE confirmed to NFC Times it would be part of the T-Mobile project, though probably later. There is also a transit application planned, among others. END UPDATE.
For Orange group, it would be the third commercial launch of NFC, after the UK and France, though both rollouts are little more than demonstration projects, at present. Orange is also targeting Spain for an NFC launch. For Deutsche Telekom, Poland represents the group’s first NFC launch.
Deutsche Telekom disclosed the plans to launch NFC this year in Poland when it announced a deal with MasterCard in July. That agreement will see the telco also introduce its own co-branded NFC application in Germany next year.
The MasterCard partnership covers Deutsche Telekom’s other European markets, as well, such as those in the Czech Republic and Hungary. T-Mobile UK, part of the Everything Everywhere joint venture with Orange UK, would be covered under a separate agreement with MasterCard. T-Mobile USA is part of the Isis joint venture and is not party to its parent’s deal with MasterCard.
Deutsche Telekom said at the time of its announcement with MasterCard that its mobile wallets will eventually support such other NFC applications as ticketing, couponing or access control for users’ automobiles, homes and offices.
In the medium and long-term, consumers will be able to receive mobile coupons directly on their phones and redeem them in-store. They’ll also have an option for transferring money directly between mobile devices, said the operator.
For their launches in Poland, both Deutsche Telekom and Orange hope to tap into the growing infrastructure of contactless payment terminals that number nearly 90,000 nationwide. MasterCard said today that PayPass transactions account for 10% of total MasterCard transactions in the country, one of the highest contactless payment rates worldwide.
Both MasterCard and Visa Europe have targeted Poland as a contactless payments hotspot in Europe and are believed to be subsidizing the terminals. Their affiliated banks had issued a combined 11 million to 12 million PayPass and Visa payWave EMV cards as of last summer.
Orange Poland said it offers nine NFC phones for sale, which project organizers said would be available for payments. MasterCard has certified the devices to run its PayPass application on its SIM cards.
The phones are the Galaxy S III, HTC One X, Lumia 610, Nokia 808 Pure View, Sony Xperia T, Xperia S and Xperia P, and the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Bold 9790. But the One X, Lumia 610 and Bold 9790 might not be ready for the launch, a source told NFC Times.