Thai Bank and Telco Involved in Follow-Up NFC M-Payment Trial

Jul 21 2010

France-based Gemalto announced it is serving as trusted service manager for what appears to be a small NFC mobile-payment trial in Thailand involving a bank and mobile operator.

Gemalto, in a press release, said Kasikornbank, one of Thailand’s largest banks, and AIS, its largest mobile operator, would launch the service this month, with about 40 targeted merchants. UPDATE: But the project appears to be a small follow-up trial from trials held by Kasikornbank and AIS last year. It will make use of the same NFC phones as used in those trials, the older Nokia 6212, which AIS apparently has in stock. A Visa payWave application would be stored on an embedded chip in the phones, just as with the earlier trials. This trial, however, likely will involve more users, perhaps more than 100.

The Gemalto announcement said selected customers could pick up their NFC phones for the service from the bank. Gemalto would personalize the payment application for Kasikornbank over the air. AIS might offer other applications. 

It's unclear why the project is targeting only 40 merchant outlets. There are more than 1,000 merchants accepting payWave from cards in Thailand, including Starbucks coffee shops and fast-food chains McDonald’s and Burger King. These merchants should also be able to accept payWave stored on NFC phones. The Gemalto release said a user interface for the service from the bank directs consumers to about 40 restaurant, entertainment and grocery outlets.

The fact customers can pick up their phones at Kasikornbank indicates the bank is the lead partner in the new project. It perhaps wants to get another NFC trial under its belt, though there are no signs yet of plans for a commercial launch by the bank. The parties began planning this trial last year, and it's also unclear why they decided to launch at this time.

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