Telefónica Announces Large NFC Employee Trial in Spain

Apr 7 2011

Telefónica Spain has announced its large NFC trial at its Madrid headquarters, which it said would eventually put NFC phones into the hands of as many as 12,500 employees.

The trial began in March with 1,000 employees, who can tap their Samsung NFC phones to pay at restaurants and some retail outlets in and around the telco’s big headquarters campus, as well as entering buildings or work areas.

The trial involves three Spanish banks along with Visa Europe, and likely will serve as a prelude to NFC rollouts by Telefónica in Spain. The operator is the flagship for the Spain-based Telefónica Group.

As NFC Times reported last year, the project was expected to launch last June, but had been delayed. Telefónica is using Samsung’s S5230 NFC phone for the project, known as the Samsung Star in Spain. Samsung is also coming out with NFC-enabled smartphones by the middle of this year, which might be added later to the project, or other NFC phones.

Telefónica has expanded the scope of the project from what was originally planned, announcing Thursday that banks La Caixa, BBVA and Bankinter are involved, along with Visa Europe and processor and payment technology platform provider Sermepa.

Update: The trial enables Telefónica employees to choose their own debit or credit card account from these banks and have it loaded onto Telefónica SIM cards and personalized over the air. They also can tap to enter work areas with an ID application stored on their SIMs, and can load meal vouchers or prepaid value on the cards for dining at company cafeterias and restaurants.

France-based Oberthur Technologies is serving as trusted service manager for the project and Germany-based Giesecke and Devrient is supplying the NFC-enabled SIMs, Telefónica told NFC Times. End update.

"By launching this initiative and other similar projects, which we will deploy in other countries where we operate, Telefónica aims to prepare for deployment in Spain and lead the way in NFC development," said Guillermo Ansaldo, who heads Telefónica España, in a statement.

La Caixa and Telefónica, along with Visa Europe, last May launched a high-profile NFC pilot in the resort town of Sitges near Barcelona. The trial enabled about 1,500 users to tap their Samsung Star phones to pay at 500 merchant locations, with a Visa payWave application stored on SIM cards issued by Telefónica. The new headquarters trial puts the secure applications, such as payment, onto Telefónica’s SIMs.

Telefónica said in announcing the new trial that the results of last year's Sitges trial shows the "vast potential" of mobile payment. The trial organizers said customers conducted 30% more transactions, presumably compared with their cards. Average purchase value increased substantially, as well. And the trial saw "acceptance of the technology by all groups," with the average age of customers using their mobile phones to pay coming in at 46.

The fact that La Caixa and two other banks are involved in the new trial and with the telco planning to increase the number of trial participants to more than 12,000 employees likely means the pilot will expand to more retail establishments off of the Telefónica campus. But contactless payment has not yet been rolled out throughout Spain so there are few merchants in Madrid equipped to accept contactless payment, at present. Update: But La Caixa appears to have an aggressive plan to roll out contactless technology, starting in the Balearic Islands. It will equip 5,000 merchants there with contactless terminals and send out 130,000 Visa payWave cards to customers on the islands this spring. End update.

Both of the other two banks participating in the trial, BBVA and Bankinter, have held their own NFC trials. Bankinter’s trial involved its own mobile virtual network operator service, Bankinter Mobile, enabling it to issue both the SIM cards and Visa payWave payment applications used in the employee trial, which launched last fall.

Telefónica’s Sitges trial and the new one at its headquarters also indicates that Telefónica, at least in Spain, plans to work with banks for mobile payment. Other branch operators in the Telefónica Group, such as Telefónica O2 operators in the United Kingdom and Germany, plan to introduce their own payment services–though O2 UK might work with one of the established international card brands, such as Visa.

According to Telefónica, the large headquarters trial is enabling employees to tap to pay at stores on campus and at "local establishments." They also can load meal vouchers or prepaid value onto the SIM cards to pay at company cafeterias or restaurants operated by Autogrill.

The trial is also be one of the most high-profile uses of an access-control application on NFC phones. Telefónica said employees can tap to enter work areas, with the ID credentials loaded onto the SIMs in the phones.

Among other NFC trials testing physical access control was a large pilot held by Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, which enabled up to 6,000 users to tap to enter their apartment complexes. The trial also included payment and transit ticketing.

HEADLINE NEWS

NFC Wallets Make Up Growing Share of Contactless Payments on London Transit

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Use of NFC wallets continues to steadily increase as part of Transport for London’s landmark contactless payments service, with payments from NFC-enabled smartphones and smartwatches now accounting for 20% of all contactless payments, NFC Times has learned. 

Market Research Firm: Apple Pay Surpasses Starbucks App in Users in U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight –Apple Pay, which launched its mobile payments service five years ago this week in the U.S., has so far failed to live up to expectations with the service, either in the U.S. or globally, in terms of users and transactions.

Cubic Strikes Deal with Google to Enable Closed-Loop Transit Payments in Google Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – In a move that could enable more large transit agencies to offer NFC mobile payments with their closed-loop transit cards, U.S.-based Cubic Transportation Systems has signed an agreement with Google to integrate contactless transit cards with Google Pay. Among the agencies planning to support the service are those serving Google’s home base in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. 

In-Depth: Persistent Consumer Security Fears about Mobile Payments Prove Difficult to Dislodge

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Results of yet another survey has shown that a significant percentage of U.S. consumers continue to harbor security fears about using their smartphones for payments, a stubborn problem that has hindered growth of mobile payments from the beginning.

Mobile Suica Still Accounts for Disappointing Share of Suica Users and Transactions in Japan

NFC TIMES Exclusive – While Apple Pay next month will mark the 5th anniversary since its launch in the U.S., there is another contactless-mobile payments service that is three times as old as Apple Pay–Japan’s Osaifu-Keitai, or wallet phones, which this year turned 15. 

Rome Latest Transit System to Launch Open-Loop Fare Collection; also Enables Monthly Passes with EMV Cards

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Rome has become the second major city in Italy–and one of a small but growing number of large cities globally–to enable riders to pay transit fares with EMV contactless credit, debit and prepaid cards and NFC devices.

Vivo Last of Major Chinese Smartphone Makers to Officially Launch NFC Pays Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Vivo, China’s second largest smartphone maker, made it official this week, launching its NFC-enabled “vivo Pay” wallet, the last of the major Chinese phone OEMs to roll out NFC payments–though their use has been disappointing, at least for payments in stores.

In-Depth: Fit Pay’s Troubles Indicate Difficult Business Case for Provisioning to Wearables

Sep 19 2019

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight –  Given the poor financial results of U.S.-based Fit Pay, it’s becoming clear that the business case for provisioning of payment cards to wearable devices remains difficult.

Analysis: Chase Pay Latest Bank Wallet to Shut Down; Why Did They Fail?

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Plans disclosed this week by JPMorgan Chase to shut down its Chase Pay app for in-store purchases is yet another nail in the coffin–perhaps the final one–for bank wallets in the U.S. And the situation does not look much brighter for bank-issued wallets abroad.

Miami Latest U.S. City to Introduce Open-Loop Transit Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight Transit officials in Miami-Dade County, Fla. are the latest in the U.S. to introduce open-loop payments of fares with contactless credit and debit cards and bank card credentials on NFC wallets, launching the service yesterday on the city's relatively small metro network, with plans to expand to buses later.

UK Tram Riders Take to Tapping with NFC phones to Pay for Fares, According to Early Results

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Transport for Greater Manchester, which last month launched open-loop payments on its large Metrolink tram network, said Thursday that contactless credit and debit cards and NFC wallets accounted for a combined 170,000 rides during the first four weeks of the service.

In-Depth: NFC Wallet Use for Open-Loop Transit Grows but Still Makes Up Relatively Small Share of Contactless Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive – When New York City transit officials announced Tuesday that the 1 millionth ride paid for through their new OMNY open-loop payments service had arrived ahead of schedule, they also proudly noted that 80% of the contactless payments had come from NFC wallets, not physical bank cards.