Orange Announces First NFC Smartphone for European Markets

Feb 14 2011

BARCELONA – France Telecom-Orange Group today announced plans to introduce its first NFC-enabled smartphone model, the Samsung Wave 578, which Samsung Electronics introduced yesterday.

Orange said it plans to launch the mid-tier smartphone, which runs Samsung’s own Bada operating system, in the second quarter in France, Spain and Poland. It would later expand the rollout of the phone to other Orange branch operators in Europe. The phone supports NFC applications on SIM cards Orange will issue. Other NFC phones will follow.

"The inclusion of SIM-secured contactless capabilities will lay the foundations for Orange to enable a tranche of new services from partners in the future, ranging from mobile payment to ticketing and transportation," Orange said in a statement.

Orange has been among the most aggressive telcos in Europe in promoting NFC. It has already announced plans to roll out SIM cards supporting NFC services to most of its European operators by the second half of 2011 and has stated its intention that more than half of the new smartphone models it buys, perhaps by the end of the year, will support NFC.

In its announcement today, Orange indicated it also plans to introduce NFC-enabled models from LG Electronics and Nokia, among others.

Update: Orange will be deploying the NFC-enabled phones and SIMs even though few NFC services–such as ticketing and payment, are yet available in France or in its other major markets. Part of this strategy is to put NFC-enabled devices and SIMs into the pockets of subscribers in order to encourage service providers to roll out services.

But it is also meant to send a message to handset makers that demand is strong in Europe, especially for NFC phones that support the single-wire protocol standard, or SWP, which enables applications to be stored on SIM cards that the operators issue. That supports one of Orange's main business models, charging fees to service providers to store and manage their applications on the SIMs.

Many of the new NFC phones are expected to carry embedded secure chips that may or may not also support the SWP.

"In our view as an operator, the model based on the SIM card is the best model," Anne Bouverot, Orange Group's executive vice president, mobile services, told NFC Times. With the applications on the SIM, the telco becomes the central point in managing the applications, she said. That could come in handy if the customer has a problem, such as losing the phone, she said. "You have a number of NFC applications on your phone. What are you going to do? Are you going to, one, call the bank? And two, call the retailer? Three, call the transport operator? Four, call Facebook?" End update.

Samsung, at a pre-opening event yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, also announced support for NFC in its planned follow-up to its popular Galaxy S Android smartphone, the Galaxy S II. Samsung said the phone would not be available with NFC in all markets, however. Update: Bouverot said she has been told by Samsung it would be available in France with NFC. End update. But Orange did not announce the availability of an NFC-enabled Galaxy S II today.

The Wave 578 is a touchscreen phone supporting such features as Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and fast data rates. Orange will be able to customize the device with its Orange Signature services, including Orange TV Player, Orange Maps, Orange Messenger and the Orange Application Shop.

Orange said it would also introduce Samsung NFC phones in the in the United Kingdom, which would be launched by Orange UK and its Everything Everywhere joint venture with T-Mobile UK. The telco has announced it will start to roll out NFC payment and other services by early summer with its partner on the project, Barclaycard, the credit card unit of Barclays bank. Today's announcement excluded the United Kingdom in the Wave 578 launch plans for the second quarter.

Orange has been selling Samsung’s S5230 NFC phone, called the Player One in France, at its shops and the handset is being used in an NFC demonstration project in the French city of Nice. Orange and other French mobile operators have sold only about 3,000 of the 2G phones in Nice since last spring.

Update: And they would have sold about that many Player One phones without NFC functionality. While most Orange subscribers probably won't buy the Wave 578 or the smartphones that follow this year because of NFC, handset makers will know the difference. 

"It’s a very strong message by our management to the vendors: 'We now have an internal objective,' " Vincent Barnaud, director of contactless solutions at Orange, told NFC Times. "That means it will influence the sourcing of handsets. We’re trying to get the other operators to make the same commitments." End update.

HEADLINE NEWS

UK Public Transit Officials in Midlands Seek to Replicate London’s Success in Pay-as-You-Go Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transit officials in the Midlands in the UK today are calling on the government to fund a London-style contactless fare-payments system across this large section of the country, which would enable riders to tap to pay for trips on rail, bus and tram networks with either closed- and open-loop cards and credentials on smartphones.  

Post-Lockdown, Transit Riders Want Agencies to Run Vehicles More Frequently, Provide Real-Time Arrival Information and Offer Contactless and Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight - Up to a third of transit riders in several cities say contactless payments and mobile ticketing would encourage them to return t

New York’s OMNY Project Completes Major Milestone, as Transit Officials Point to Steady Growth in Adoption

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is seeing steady growth in use of its OMNY open-loop fare payments system by customers–though overall open-loop payments remain small–as the agency continues its phased rollout of acceptance of contactless EMV bank cards and NFC Pays wallets. 

In-Depth: Trip-Planning Giant Moovit Begins to Enable Ticketing and Payments, as Rivals Make Similar Moves

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Moovit, which bills itself as the world's largest “urban mobility app,” has begun to enable public transit ticketing and payments from its platform, as it seeks to deliver what it says is a true mobility-as-a-service experience for users.

Los Angeles Transit Authority Follows Through with Plans to Enable TAP Card for Apple Pay; Google Pay to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another major U.S. transit agency has introduced a virtual closed-loop card for Apple Pay this week, with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, announcing the move Thursday. It comes a couple of days after the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, announced it had put its SmarTrip closed-loop card on Apple’s NFC-enabled devices, as well.

Apple Enables Virtual SmarTrip Fare Card for Apple Pay in Washington, D.C., with More Closed-Loop Transit Cards Expected This Year in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple added support for its latest closed-loop transit card for Apple Pay, enabling customers of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA, to tap their NFC-enabled iPhones and Apple Watches to pay for rides with WMATA’s SmarTrip virtual card.

Insight: Apple’s Long Game Pays Off, Conquering Resistance to Apple Pay from Banks in Europe and Beyond

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – It’s coming up on six years since Apple announced its groundbreaking digital-payments service, Apple Pay. And while consumer adoption remains a work in progress, Apple has had considerable success gaining participation from banks and other issuers in what is now more than 50 countries worldwide.

Transit Agency in Canada Plans to Launch Mobile Ticketing, Citing Covid Fears

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another transit agency in Canada has announced it will enable mobile ticketing, along with reloadable contactless cards, citing in part the Covid-19 pandemic and the desire to reduce the use of cash, vending machines and customer interaction with agency staff.

Biggest U.S. Supermarket Chain Trials Contactless as Covid-19 Fears Increase Demand for ‘No-Touch Payments’

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The announcement by The Kroger Co., the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., that it has begun trialing contactless payments in a subsidiary indicates that one of the last major holdouts among big U.S. merchants will eventually accept such NFC payments services as Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as contactless bank cards.

Southern California Transit Agency to Sell Tickets Via Google Maps and Google Pay; Others Expected to Follow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that popular trip-planning apps Transit, Moovit and Google Maps are seeking to expand further into mobile ticketin

Insight: Apple Buys Mobile-POS Firm as It Seeks to Expand Acceptance of Contactless Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – In a move seeking to expand the base of merchants that can accept its payments service, Apple Pay, Apple has reportedly acquired Montreal, Canada-based mobile POS company Mobeewave, which could enable small shop owners, restaurants and street vendors, among others, to more easily accept contactless EMV cards and NFC mobile wallets.

Exclusive: Google Tests Mobile Ticketing Initiated in Maps App; Could Lead to Mobility-as-a-Service Offer?

Jul 23 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Three small public transit agencies in the U.S. are quietly testing use of Google Maps and Google Pay to enable customers to first plan then pay for tickets. It’s believed to be the first pilots of its kind for Google, a move that could mean the search giant plans to compete with such popular trip-planning apps as Transit and Moovit, which are starting to enable public transit ticketing and payments, NFC Times reports.