Gulf Telco Plans to Launch NFC Payment Service on BlackBerrys

Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates’ largest telco, disclosed plans to introduce NFC payment to the Gulf state, putting a MasterCard PayPass application on SIM cards in at least one NFC-enabled BlackBerry model.

An announcement today by MasterCard Worldwide noted that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion would collaborate on the project along with France-based Oberthur Technologies, which is believed to be making the NFC-enabled SIMs.

RIM announced in August that Etisalat would be introducing its BlackBerry Bold 9900. A report by Reuters said today that this would be the first model supporting Etisalat’s NFC service, which would put a PayPass “debit prepaid” application on the phones. The name of the planned bank issuer, however, has not been released.

The report quoted Etisalat senior manager for m-commerce, Enrique Beza, as saying that the carrier hopes to reduce churn by offering the service. Etisalat is in a heated battle for subscribers with competing operator du, which together make up UAE’s telecom duopoly.

“Hopefully, by adding services, especially financial services, this is an application that our subscribers will appreciate and stay with us," he reportedly said, likely speaking at the Gitex computer and electronics trade show being held this week in Dubai.

It’s the first announcement of a planned NFC payment service using a BlackBerry phone. But while the Reuters report said Etisalat predicts the service will launch before the end of the year, it also noted that the payment service was pending approval from UAE government regulators.

In addition, the BlackBerry Bold and NFC-enabled SIM cards from Oberthur are still believed to be undergoing certification from MasterCard to carry a PayPass application–though MasterCard could grant a waiver to allow the service to launch.

But the biggest obstacle to an NFC payment rollout in the UAE–besides the shortage of NFC phones–is the scarcity of point-of-sale terminals accepting contactless payment.

Fewer than 2% of POS terminals in the country, or about 700 terminals, support PayPass, NFC Times has learned.

MasterCard was not available for comment on today’s announcement. Its release did not say when the service would launch.

Etisalat group, which has branch operators in 18 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, announced in July it had launched a “Touch and Go” NFC payment service with its subsidiary, Zantel, in Tanzania. The service, which also has MasterCard and Oberthur as partners, would add to Zantel’s mobile-banking service in the East African country.

The announcement didn’t mention the number of merchants that could accept NFC-based payments in Tanzania or phone models available, however. It did say a mobile adaptor would be available, likely Oberthur’s NFC bridge technology that uses a flexible antenna to connect to SIM cards in non-NFC phones.

RIM’s BlackBerry Bold 9900 has an embedded secure chip and also supports a single-wire protocol connection to the SIM. That is probably true of its NFC-enabled Curve, as well, which RIM also has introduced in a variety of markets.

MasterCard, in its announcement today, indicated the application on the Etisalat NFC phones would be a prepaid service, funded from users’ credit, debit or prepaid MasterCard card accounts. The consumers would be prompted to enter a PIN code on their mobile phones before completing a transaction, said MasterCard.

Yesterday, RIM’s co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, also speaking at Gitex in Dubai, announced that new NFC-enabled BlackBerrys would be able to transfer documents, contacts and other data in peer-to-peer mode with RIM’s BlackBerry Tag feature. The NFC phones would require an update to the BlackBerry 7 operating system on the phones to support the P2P feature.

HEADLINE NEWS

Three Major Singaporean Banks Agree to Support Apple Pay; Samsung Follows

Apr 20 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Three of Singapore’s largest banks will soon launch mobile payments with Apple Pay, Apple disclosed Tuesday, as it launched Apple Pay in its sixth country.

Many U.S. Merchants Continue to Balk at Accepting NFC Wallets; One Reason: Suspicions that Wallet Providers Could Get Their Data

NFC Times Exclusive – Few industry sources agree on the size of the contactless-acceptance footprint in the U.S. that enables merchants to accept Apple Pay and other NFC-enabled wallets; but one thing most of them do agree on is that contactless acceptance is not sufficient to support any kind of significant adoption of the wallets.

Restructuring Helps G&D Turn Around Financial Results from Gloomy 2014

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Germany-based Giesecke & Devrient turned around its financial results in 2015, including its money-losing banking and SIM card unit, thanks mainly to restructuring and higher shipments of EMV bank cards to China and the U.S., the privately held company disclosed Tuesday. 

Singaporean Telcos Try NFC Transit Ticketing Following Failed NFC Payments Rollout

NFC Times Exclusive Insight –  Singapore’s three major mobile operators are giving SIM-based NFC services another try, hoping that the offer of mobile transit fare collection will encourage more consumers to use their NFC phones to tap to pay, following the flop of the country’s NFC retail payments rollout that began in 2012.

French Payments Scheme Gears Up to Provide Tokenization for HCE, OEM Pay and Tokens on SIMs

Apr 5 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight –  France’s domestic debit scheme Cartes Bancaires has been gearing up for the past year to launch a tokenization service for French issuers, with commercial service expected in coming months, including in support of HCE apps launched by banks and possibly for “OEM Pay” services.

Samsung Launches in China, Trailing Apple and Huawei

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Samsung’s announcement today of its move into China with Samsung Pay helped the OEM make good on its objective of launching in China by the first quarter, though the launch has happened well after rival device makers Apple and Huawei launched their own mobile payments services in China.

OTI Cuts Costs, Reports New Orders, but Road to Profitability Remains Long

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Six months after taking the helm of Israel-based On Track Innovations, CEO Shlomi Cohen is seeking to convince investors he can turn around the contactless reader and NFC vendor, which has been struggling despite greater global demand for the company’s main product, contactless readers.

Analysis: Poland's Bank Pekao First to Launch HCE for Windows 10, but Others Slow to Follow

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – While Poland has among the highest concentrations of contactless point-of-sale terminals globally, NFC mobile payments has not yet taken off.

China UnionPay Confirms Support For Huawei Pay

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Chinese payment network China UnionPay has announced support for Huawei Pay, a deal that could substantially expand the number of banks and payments cards that Huawei could enable for its NFC payments service as it seeks to compete with Apple and Apple Pay.

Analysis: Visa Provides One of Canada’s Largest Banks Tokenization and Apparently Some HCE Services

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Toronto-Dominion Bank, one of Canada’s largest banks, is the first in the country to adopt Visa's tokenization technology and the third outside the U.S. that have been announced so far using the payment scheme’s tokenization service.

Taiwan’s No. 2 Telco Launches SIM-Based NFC But Not with Its Own TSM Joint Venture

Mar 22 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Taiwan’s second largest mobile operator, Taiwan Mobile, Tuesday launched support for credit and debit card payments on NFC SIM cards–but the telco is using an outside trusted service manager to manage its NFC SIM cards, not the TSM platform it set up with other Taiwanese telcos as part of a joint venture.

Analysis: OTI Attempts Seeks to Enable Payments on Wearables

Mar 24 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Israel-based contactless reader and NFC vendor On Track Innovations is hoping a planned move to enable the provisioning of payment applications onto wearable devices, will generate recurring revenue and help bolster its finances.