Vodafone Italy to Launch Branded Payment Application as Part of NFC Rollout

Vodafone Italia is the latest operator to disclose plans to launch its own payment application, with its announcement Tuesday that it will commercially launch NFC in 2013, starting with a trial this month in Milan.

The mobile operator, one of the two largest in Italy, said it would put its prepaid contactless co-branded payment card, Smart Pass, onto NFC SIM cards, as well as enabling other payment and mobile-commerce applications. It’s calling its branded mobile-payment service Smart Pass NFC.

The move was not unexpected. Vodafone launched contactless Smart Pass card in January of 2012 with partner CartaSi, and said Tuesday it had signed up 100,000 cardholders. Besides enabling users to tap to pay for low-value purchases and conduct a chip-and-PIN transaction for higher-value transactions, the payment card accounts also can be used for online purchases. That's expected to be the case when Vodafone expands the application to NFC phones.

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