Turkcell to Expand NFC Rollout with More Branded Phones, Applications

Turkey’s largest mobile operator, Turkcell, plans to introduce more of its own branded NFC phones and will expand the services available in its mobile wallet beyond payment, the telco told NFC Times.

This follows the launch earlier this month by Turkcell of its own branded Android NFC phone from Chinese manufacturer Huawei. The phone stores MasterCard Worldwide PayPass applications on SIM cards the telco issues.

The operator launched the Huawei handset July 7 and has it on sale in about 1,000 shops in Turkey, as it continues to roll out its NFC mobile wallet, called Cep-T Cüzdan. Subscribers with NFC-enabled SIM cards can pay with a PayPass application issued by either of two banks, Yapı Kredi and Garanti bank, with applications from more banks and other service providers planned to launch by the end of the year, Ergi Sener, product manager for Turkcell’s mobile wallet, told NFC Times.

Turkcell, working with Huawei, brought the Chinese telecom equipment maker’s first NFC-enabled Android phone–known as the U8650NFC Sonic–to market. It’s one of the first NFC-enabled smartphones to roll out anywhere, and the first that supports more than one bank-issued application, noted Turkcell. The phone supports the single-wire protocol standard, enabling secure applications to be stored on SIM cards.

Turkcell, which calls the phone the T20, preloads the mobile-wallet software. The 3G touch-screen handset, which runs Google’s Android Gingerbread operating system, is designed to be an affordable phone. Turkcell subscribers pay an unsubsidized price of about €200 (US$285.65).

The payment applications, from two of Turkey’s largest privately owned banks, are both available, said Turkcell. While Yapı Kredi has announced its commercial PayPass application for the wallet, Garanti has yet to officially launch its own application for the Turkcell SIMs. But Sener said “all MasterCard-branded credit, debit and prepaid cards of Garanti can be added” to the wallet. 

Turkcell also is serving as trusted service manager to download and manage secure applications in its wallet. It built the TSM platform in-house with the help of Turkey-based smart card company SmartSoft.

Turkcell commercially launched the NFC service in April with Yapı Kredi, using the well-worn 2G Samsung S5230. The phone, used in a number of trials the past year, is one of the few NFC handsets on the market supporting the single-wire protocol. Turkcell also supports its mobile wallet with a bridge technology, SIMs linked to flexible antennas. These can be inserted into a variety of phones to give them a contactless interface.

Turkcell, which claims more than half of the competitive Turkish mobile market with more than 33 million subscribers, appears to be ready to bring more customized NFC phones to stores, especially handsets that support the single-wire protocol. Sener said there would be other phones like the T20.

“The new handsets that will be launched to market as Turkcell-branded phones are also planned to support UICC (SIM)-based NFC functionality as a default feature,” he told NFC Times. “Thus, we will be working with different vendors for this objective.”

He declined to elaborate, but additional phones from Huawei or ZTE, another Chinese handset maker that produces private-label handsets along with those carrying its own brand, are likely. And ZTE, like Huawei, is introducing relatively low-cost NFC-enabled Android phones. 

But he added that the operator plans to put the Cep-T Cüzdan mobile wallet on other phones supporting the single-wire protocol, or SWP, in addition to the Turkcell-branded phones.

Huawei Technologies, which is mainly a supplier of telecom network infrastructure, ranked as the 10th largest maker of mobile phones in the first quarter of 2011, shipping an estimated 7 million units, according to U.S.-based research firm Gartner.

Turkcell introduced its first branded phone, the Android-based T10, last year. The phone, also known as the Huawei u8110, does not have an NFC chip built-in, though Turkcell is issuing SIMs with flexible antennas for the phone.

MasterCard granted a waiver to Turkcell to use the T20 for PayPass, but Sener said the phone is undergoing certification testing for performance and security through MasterCard. The telco uses NFC-enabled SIM cards from France-based Gemalto, which are already certified by MasterCard.

After the United Kingdom, Turkey has the largest acceptance infrastructure for contactless open-loop payment in Europe, with 46,000 merchant terminals in place that can accept PayPass, said Sener. 

He predicted transit and other ticketing applications, along with loyalty, would be available for the Turkcell wallet by the end of 2011. Transit ticketing in particular will be important to encourage consumers to adopt the wallet, he said. Several Turkish cities, including Istanbul and İzmir, have contactless readers in place for transit fare collection.

“Since mass transit applications are used in daily basis, we think that they will be the catalyst for penetration,” Sener said. “We have been working with some transport operators, but we cannot give an exact time frame for the launch of these transit applications yet.”

Turkcell had hoped to commercially launch NFC before the end of last year. It faces competition for mobile payment in the market, including a service launched by Garanti and Turkish mobile operator Avea, using SIMs with flexible antennas. One or more Turkish banks also might launch mobile payment using bridge technologies.


Israel Launches Nationwide Mobile-Ticketing Scheme; Moovit, Others Provide Apps

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Israel this week launched a nationwide mobile-ticketing system, enabling riders to pay for trips on buses and later on railways, with the charges assessed at the end of each month.

In-Depth: Networks Developing New Uses for SoftPOS, Though Questions Remain about Interoperability and Costs of Technology

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While the idea of letting merchants use their own NFC-enabled smartphones and tablets as acceptance devices to take contactless EMV payments is still getting off the ground, some major payments networks are already working on expanding the technology to enable consumers to tap their own devices to pay.

Planned Account-Based Ticketing Project Remains on Track in Queensland; Expected to Give Customers More Ways to Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The new account-based ticketing system under development for the Australian state of Queensland remains on track and on budget to be fully rolled out by 2022, despite the challenges of working through the Covid-19 pandemic, Martin Bradshaw, project head and general manager for passenger transport strategy and technology for transit agency TransLink, told NFC Times through a spokesman.

Insight: Taiwan’s Dominant Fare-Collection Service Struggles to Stay Competitive in Changing E-Payments Landscape

NFC TIMES Exclusive – EasyCard Corp. remains the dominant contactless stored-value card in Taiwan, boasting of market shares above 70% in transit fare payments and retail transactions nationally amid competition from three other contactless closed-loop cards that vie for transit and low-value retail transactions across the island nation.

In-Depth: California Transport Group Launches Mobile Ticketing, Plans MaaS Rollout

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Officials in California’s Central Valley have launched an app that enables users to buy mobile tickets for bus and rail rides with seven mostly small public transit agencies, with plans to expand to ticketing for electronic car and bike sharing, along with on-demand ride-sharing and van-pool services.

UPDATED: Google Pay Launches with Fintechs in 10 New Countries, as Search Giant Unveils Revamped App; Deeper Move into Financial Services in U.S.

Nov 19 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google Pay has added its first new countries in 18 months, all of them in continental Europe and all counting digital banks and other fintechs as the vast majority of the issuers across the 10 new markets.

Transport for London Prepares for Major Fare-Collection System Contract

Nov 18 2020

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Transport for London, which runs the largest open-loop fare payments system globally, has issued a notice that it is preparing to seek proposals for a major upgrade of its revenue-collection system.

Visa and Mastercard See Continued Growth in Contactless Usage

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Both Visa and Mastercard say contactless transactions made up a growing share of all face-to-face transactions for cards and other credentials bearing their brands during the last fiscal quarter, crediting in part an increasing aversion to cash by consumers because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Contactless usage rates, however, had been increasing by nearly the same rates before the pandemic.

Apple Pay Enables Ventra Closed-Loop Fare Card in Chicago after Long Delay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple has finally made good on plans to enable fare payments through Apple Pay with the closed-loop Ventra card from the Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA, the latest major closed-loop card the tech giant has enabled in recent months.

Visa Rolls Out SoftPOS technology as It Seeks to Promote Acceptance of Contactless by More Small and Micro-Merchants

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight -  Visa is rolling out what it calls “Tap to Phone” technology to 15 global markets, as it seeks to enable millions of small and micro-merchants that now mainly take cash to also accept contactless EMV credit and debit cards and credentials on NFC devices.

Trip-Planning Apps Moovit and Transit Enable Ticketing and Payments for Another Transit Agency

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Multimodal trip-planning apps Moovit and Transit have introduced ticketing and payments in their apps for another North American transit agency, following an emerging trend for trip-planning apps to enable users to plan, book and pay for their rides all in one place. The app providers are offering the extra service as they seek ways to give users a better mobility-as-a-service experience.

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Seeks to Expand Involvement in Public Transit and Other Mobility Payments Projects

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the acquirer and processor for the open-loop payments service rolled out by Transport for New South Wales in Sydney, says it is negotiating with transit officials in other Australian states to help launch similar payments services. It also hopes to be involved in payments for mobility-as-a-service platforms.