Czech Republic Plans Contactless and NFC Rollouts

Banks in the Czech Republic are planning to begin rollouts of contactless payment before the end of 2011, with NFC commercial launches by telcos expected next year.

Spokespersons for the Czech banks and telcos, along with card networks doing business there, confirm to NFC Times plans for the contactless card and NFC phone rollouts–though the size of the rollouts remain unclear.

“We can say there will be a payments revolution in the Czech Republic this year following the contactless payments announcements,” Marcel Gajdoš, Visa Europe’s manager for contactless and mobile projects in the Czech Republic, told NFC Times in a statement. “The number of acceptance places will increase (e)specially in (the) autumn this year.”

If by revolution, Gajdoš means a substantial change from the status quo, well, that would be the case since at present there are no payment cards or merchant terminals supporting contactless to speak of in the Czech Republic.

The rollouts will probably begin slowly, and the Czech Republic is not a large country, with only 10.5 million people. Still, the projects could add momentum to contactless card and NFC launches in Europe, which generally lags behind North America and Asia in contactless payment.

Among contactless hot spots in Europe are the United Kingdom, Turkey and, more recently, Poland.

NFC Trial Planned with Two Banks
Telefónica O2 Czech Republic and Komerční bank last month announced plans for an NFC trial to start in mid-2011, involving 400 users, who will be able to tap Samsung S5230 NFC phones to pay with Visa payWave at three hypermarket locations in the capital Prague and one in the city of Pilsen. The telco had held a first, and smaller, phase of the trial in 2009 with about 50 users, who could tap to pay for bus fares in Pilsen.

In addition to Komerční bank, Citibank Europe plans to issue a Visa payWave application for the new trial. And users in Pilsen would again be able to pay transit fares. The applications would be loaded onto O2 SIM cards.

O2 said it plans to commercially launch NFC in 2012, with payment applications “implemented” on O2 SIM cards to be included in a “standard offering.”

Among the NFC phones it plans to enlist for the rollout are the Samsung Galaxy S II and some BlackBerry models from Research in Motion. The telco would put its O2 Wallet application on the phones, said Richard Walitza, manager for NFC financial services at Telefónica O2 Czech Republic, in a statement.

O2 Czech Republic said the O2 Wallet, likely developed by parent Telefónica, will also carry other services, including transport, loyalty cards and discount vouchers, all stored on the SIM card of their mobile handset.

Germany-based Deutsche Telekom group has also said its T-Mobile Czech Republic unit would launch NFC services next year.

One problem, however, is the lack of point-of-sale terminals accepting either Visa payWave or MasterCard PayPass in the Czech Republic, acknowledged Sirus Zafar, head of cards at Komerční banka. He told NFC Times that the bank plans to install the first contactless terminals for the trial only.

The bank has 1.6 million cards on issue, but no definite plans to roll out contactless.

A spokeswoman for Telefónica O2, however, said that three Czech Banks are planning to issue payWave and PayPass cards, while two acquiring banks plan to install terminals this year and next. She did not identify the banks. 

But one of the banks with plans to do both is Ceska Sporitelna, the country’s largest issuer, with just over 3.2 million cards on issue as of the end of 2010. The savings bank will start issuing contactless cards in the fall for all new and replacement cards. The bank, also an acquirer, plans to install contactless terminals in 1,000 merchant locations by the end of the year, starting with supermarkets and hypermarkets along with fast-food outlets.

The cards and terminals from the bank will likely support Visa payWave. MasterCard last year announced there would be some cards and terminals supporting PayPass in the Czech Republic before the end of 2010, though details are sketchy on the numbers. Ceska Sporitelna said it has no plans yet for NFC projects.

A thousand contactless terminals in the Czech Republic from Sporitelna and perhaps some others from competing banks are not a lot, relatively speaking. But it is a good start, figures the telcos, banks and card networks, which hope to turn the Czech Republic into another of Europe’s contactless hot spots. 

HEADLINE NEWS

Apple Pay Finally Enables Transit Ticketing in Beijing and Shanghai, but It May be Too Late to Turn Back QR Code-Based Wallets

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – After being beaten by rival handset makers Huawei, Xiaomi and even Samsung to the launch of NFC transit ticketing in China, Apple today finally began enabling riders in two major cities, Beijing and Shanghai, to tap to pay fares using closed-loop transit ticketing cards.

China UnionPay Seeks to Bolster Use of Brand for Mobile Payments Overseas; Will It Make a Difference?

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – China’s dominant bank card network, UnionPay, which is badly losing its battle for mobile payments market share among Chinese consumers to rivals Ant Financial and Tencent Holdings–both at home and abroad–is taking steps to try to gain some ground.

Japan Begins Overdue Move to Standard NFC Acceptance

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Japan was the first country to roll out contactless-mobile payments–starting in 2004–but it still does not accept standard, internationally interoperable NFC payments to any real extent, unlike most developed markets.

Google Seeks to Sign Up More Merchants for Tez App in India as Competition Heats Up

Mar 21 2018

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – SINGAPORE: Google is seeking to sign up more small merchants and encourage more retail payments with its Tez mobile payments service in India, an app now mainly used for peer-to-peer funds transfers.

Apple Pay Could Get More Single-Tap Rewards in Next Few Months but Technology is Not Proving Easy to Roll Out

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Restaurant loyalty platform vendor Punchh could enable its delayed single-tap loyalty and rewards service with Apple Pay in the second quarter of this year at as many as six quick-service and fast-casual restaurant chains, the vendor told NFC Times.

Visa Sees Range of Use Cases for QR Code-Based Payments, as It Seeks to Address Threat from New Payments Players

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Visa, which last summer announced it would introduce QR code-based payments to Taiwan by the end of this year, has recently briefed Taiwanese bankers on the planned architecture, use cases and some other details of the technology, NFC Times has learned.

Russian Telco MegaFon Makes Play in Mobile Payments Market With Virtual Bank Cards

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Russian telco MegaFon began issuing virtual Mastercard-branded bank cards yesterday, which its users can add to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay mobile wallets.

Google Gets Support for Its Underused Smart Tap Technology from POS Terminal Supplier Ingenico

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google has not yet given up on technology it bought from the now defunct Softcard joint venture more than three years ago to try to boost use of its rebranded NFC mobile wallet, Google Pay, formerly Android Pay.

Analysis: Google Launches Google Pay Rebrand, as It Seeks to Enable Payments Across Multiple Channels and Devices

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google began rolling out its previously-announced set of Google Pay services Tuesday in what is primarily a rebrand of Android Pay and other Google payments features. The initiative supports Google’s long-held goal of making payments seamless across its various products and access points.

Can Luxury Watchmaker TAG Heuer Sell Swiss Precision Along with NFC Payments? Its Latest Smartwatch Again Supports Android Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While payments wearables, in general, are taking off more slowly than expected, a number of manufacturers are incorporating the feature in their high-end watches and that includes Switzerland-based luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer.

Hong Kong Banking Group JETCO–Former Backer of NFC–Launches QR Code Payments Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Hong Kong ATM and interbank group JETCO is the latest provider to launch a QR code-based payments service for in-store transactions in Asia, with payments coming out of the consumers’ bank accounts. But the group has few if any merchants live yet.

Vendor Hopes to ‘Flip’ Bitcoin Holders into Users of Cryptocurrency for Retail Purchases

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are mainly seen as assets for speculative investments these days rather than currencies for making payments, U.S.-based provisioning and mobile wallet platform company Fit Pay Thursday released a second announcement about its planned contactless device that would enable holders of Bitcoin to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.