Nokia Unveils Another Entry-Level Symbian NFC Phone

Nokia today introduced yet another Symbian-based NFC phone, the Nokia 603, which like other recent models, it is targeting at first-time smartphone users.

Nokia said it would begin to ship the phone later this year. The phone, which will support the latest version of Symbian, called Belle, will join three other NFC-enabled Symbian Belle models that Nokia is in the process of shipping, the 600, 700 and 701. The Finnish phone maker also has the Nokia C7 and MeeGo-based N9 on the market supporting NFC.

Like its other NFC phones, Nokia is playing up the NFC features of the new phone, especially touting content sharing and device pairing. Today, it also unveiled a uniquely designed Bluetooth headset that users could tap with their NFC phones to automatically pair the devices. The phone, like Nokia's other recent NFC models, also will do tag reading and comes preloaded with games, such as the NFC version of Angry Birds, whose owner, Finland-based Rovio, has a promotional tie-in with Nokia. 

Nokia has indicated that all of its remaining Symbian phones will be NFC-enabled, even as it gears up to introduce its first handsets based on Microsoft's Windows Phone. But the first NFC-enabled model, which will support Windows Phone 8, will not arrive until next year, as NFC Times reported earlier.

While the 603 and other Symbian models don’t support NFC payment yet, as NFC Times reported earlier, all or most of the new the Symbian phones will come with a single-wire protocol connection built-in, which could be activated with a software update. This would enable secure applications, such as payment, to be stored on SIM cards that mobile operators issue. The update is expected to be available during the first half of 2012. The C7, however, probably won't be able to be used for payment, even with updates.

“The Nokia 603 continues the renewal of our smartphone range with products that are uniquely matched to the needs of people around the world,” Tuula Rytila, a Nokia senior vice president, said in a statement today, adding that Nokia’s smartphones, among other things, “will contain unexpected surprises like the ability to tap to pair and share with NFC.”

Nokia said the 603 would be available for the Christmas shopping season and will cost €200 (US$274.30), without operator subsidy. Another Nokia site quoted the price in British pounds, at £200 (US$313.34). The Luna Bluetooth headset will cost €69 (US$94.64), said Nokia.

HEADLINE NEWS

Uber Expands Mobile Ticketing to More U.S. Public Transit Agencies

NFC TIMES Exclusive – As expected, Uber today has expanded support for public transit ticketing in its app again, this time to a consortium of 13 small and mid-tier transit agencies in Ohio and Northern Kentucky–following two other U.S. transit agencies, in Denver and Las Vegas, which have already integrated with Uber–it was announced today. NFC Times had reported the planned move in late May. 

Open-Loop Fare Payments Rollouts Continue Post-Lockdowns, with Italy’s Fourth Largest City Latest to Launch Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another of Italy’s major cities has launched open-loop fare collection, with Turin enabling customers to pay for rides on its one-line metro and certain bus routes by tapping their contactless EMV credit and debit cards, along with smartphones and smartwatches supporting NFC payments services.

Calgary Transit Launches Mobile-Ticketing Service with Plans to Expand to Open Loop

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Canada’s third largest city, Calgary, has introduced its first electronic fare payments service, offering mobile ticketing from a software-as-a-service platform provider, with plans to enable customers to pay for fares with their contactless EMV credit and debit cards and NFC wallets.

As E-Commerce Surges, Major U.S. Payments Networks Announce Plans to Expand Click to Pay Globally

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – As e-commerce continues to grow in importance as Covid-19 lockdowns ease, four major U.S. payments networks announced today they are laying the groundwork to expand their uniform e-commerce checkout platform internationally.

Transit Payments Company Head: Apple and Google Positioned to Take Bigger Piece of Payments Industry

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The head of transit payments gateway and processor Littlepay said he believes that Apple and Google are well-positioned to take a “big bite out of the payment chain,” which could change their relationship with payments networks Visa and Mastercard from one of collaboration to one of competition.

Cubic Expands Agreement with Moovit, Seeking to Drive More Use of Mobile Apps by Transit Agencies

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based Cubic Transportation Systems and Israel-based trip planning app provider Moovit, now owned by Intel, have expanded their partnership to develop mobile services for transit agencies, seeking to enable transit customers to “look, book and pay” for multimodal journeys.

Brussels Latest European Capital to Launch Open-Loop Fare Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Major Brussels transit operator STIB-MIVB plans to begin accepting contactless EMV credit and debit cards and NFC wallets on Wednesday, the latest European capital to launch open-loop payments following the success of the technology as demonstrated in London.

In-Depth: Boston Transit Agency Seeks to Put Massive Fare-Collection Project Back on Track

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The massive new fare-collection system planned by Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, or MBTA, which will include open-loop contactless payments and an expanded closed-loop program, has had trouble getting off the ground. Late last week, the transit agency finalized its “reset” of the project, agreeing to increase the contract by nearly 30% to just over $935 million and to add two more years to the rollout schedule–all in hopes of getting the project back on track.

With E-Commerce Skyrocketing, Tokenized Transactions Expected to Soar, as Well

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – As more consumers buy online, and to a lesser extent use mobile wallets for in-store purchases, because of the coronavirus pandemic, tokenized card transactions are expected to increase dramatically.  

Software-as-Service Platforms for Transit Agencies Begin to Support Open-Loop Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – In what is believed to be a first, a transit agency in Europe plans to accept contactless credit and debit cards using a third-party software-as-a-service platform this summer, UK-based platform provider Masabi told NFC Times, although the company declined to name the agency. The project is expected to begin as a pilot.

Apple Launches Overdue Octopus Payments Service in Hong Kong, as It Continues to Seek More Transit Applications for Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple today finally launched its Octopus transit payments service in Hong Kong on Apple Pay, nearly a year after the service was originally announced and more than two years after rival Samsung introduced a similar service in the market.

Mastercard: Contactless Payments in Europe Approach 80% of Card Transactions; Pandemic Causes More Consumers to Shun Cash

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While contactless payments in Europe were already commonplace and continue to grow, the Covid-19 pandemic has created even more interest in the technology among consumers, according to a report released Thursday by Mastercard. The report includes a survey showing that consumers in eight major European markets say they use NFC-enabled smartphones and wearables for a combined 32% of all contactless transactions, a spokeswoman confirmed to NFC Times.