UAE ID Agency and Telco Consider Putting National ID Application on NFC Phones
United Arab Emirates telco Etisalat and the government’s ID agency, Emirates Identity Authority, have signed a memo of understanding to study the idea of putting UAE’s national ID card application onto NFC phones.
The parties plan to launch a pilot, and this could lead to a “commercial” launch in the Gulf state, which has a large expatriate population that is issued ID cards, along with nationals.
It’s believed to be the first plans to be announced for putting a national ID card application onto NFC phones, though countries in Europe and Asia are discussing such an option.
“NFC can assist in providing creative, convenient and safe services for customers, while presenting new opportunities for data integration and communication,” Al Mazroui, executive director of communications and information systems for the Emirates Identity Authority, said in a statement.
Etisalat, which is UAE’s largest telco, has been active in gearing up for the launch of NFC services. In October, the telco and MasterCard Worldwide disclosed plans to introduce NFC payment to the Gulf state by putting a MasterCard PayPass application onto SIM cards in at least one NFC-enabled BlackBerry model.
It was not clear when the mobile-payment project would launch, however, and there are fewer than 1,000 MasterCard PayPass terminals in place at merchant locations in the UAE.
A report at the time quoted Etisalat senior manager for m-commerce, Enrique Beza, as saying that Etisalat hopes to use NFC to reduce churn. Etisalat is in a heated battle for subscribers with competing operator du, which together make up UAE’s telecom duopoly. Du also is preparing for NFC.