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

Identiv Reports Q2 Results and ‘Disappointing’ Start to 2015; but Cites New Customer Wins

Aug 18 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based Identiv revised its full-year revenue guidance downward during its second quarter earnings call on Thursday, but the compa

Apple’s Seat on NFC Forum Board Rounds out Representation from Three Major Device and Platform Players Rolling Out NFC

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – With the addition of U.S.-based tech giant Apple on the board of the NFC Forum industry trade and standards association, the group now counts among its members all three major device or platform players rolling out NFC payments.

Samsung Announces Dates for Payments Launch; Signs Up for Visa Tokenization Program

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Samsung Electronics today released exact dates for when it plans to launch its mobile-payments service, Samsung Pay–Aug. 20 in South Korea and the U.S. on Sept. 28–while saying it also intends to roll out the service in the UK, Spain and China.

Besides MST Technology, Samsung Seeks to Differentiate New Payments Service from Apple Pay with More Flexible Architecture

NFC Times Exclusive – Besides touting its much larger base of acceptance points, Samsung Electronics appears to be emphasizing what it says is a more “agnostic” approach to its technology for its forthcoming Samsung Pay platform, as compared with rival Apple Pay.  

UPDATED: Losses Continue in Second Quarter for OTI as New CEO Takes Reins

Aug 11 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – The new CEO of Israel-based On Track Innovations, Shlomi Cohen, is starting his tenure with the announcement by the company of declining revenue and continuing losses for the second quarter of 2015.

OTI Names New CEO, as Two Key Board Members Resign and Share Price Struggles

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Israel-based On Track Innovations is undergoing a major change of leadership after its board of directors named a new CEO yesterday and two major players on the board abruptly resigned.

NXP Reports Sequential Drop in NFC Business; Delay in Apple Pay Launch in China Blamed

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – NXP Semiconductors reported its NFC-based mobile transactions business fell in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, with CEO Rick Clemmer apparently blaming the delayed launch of Apple Pay in China, which he indicated is hurting its sales of NFC chips to Android handset makers in the country. 

TSM Banking Group Joint Venture Accepts Bids for HCE and Tokenization

Aug 5 2015

NFC Times Exclusive – Taiwan’s TSM banking joint venture has received proposals from at least four vendors to supply a wallet platform with host-card emulation, as well as tokenization technology, as the group seeks to expand its thus far little-used TSM platform to offer its member banks the ability to launch cloud-based NFC payments by the end of 2015, NFC Times has learned.

Hong Kong Telco Launches NFC Payments Service and App; Requires Users to Change SIMs

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Hong Kong Telecom is the latest telco to introduce its own prepaid mobile payments service and wallet app, which supports MasterCard PayPass for in-store purchases, along with online payments and a peer-to-peer funds transfer service–the latter initiated by NFC P2P mode.

UnionPay Continues Talks with Apple; China Mobile Maintains Support for NFC SIMs

NFC Times Exclusive – SHANGHAI, China: China UnionPay is continuing negotiations with Apple and some sources told NFC Times it is gearing up for a planned launch of Apple Pay in China.

Deutsche Telekom Payments Chief Departs; Telco to Revamp Struggling Wallet, Including Planned Support for HCE

NFC Times Exclusive – Deutsche Telekom has appointed a new head of payments and plans to support host-card emulation among other technologies as it seeks to revamp its struggling NFC mobile wallet, NFC Times has learned.

People on the Move: Sequent Software CEO Steps Down; Interim CEO Appointed

NFC Times Exclusive – Sequent Software, a supplier of mobile wallets, TSM and host-card emulation products, has appointed an interim CEO, replacing Robb Duffield, who stepped down earlier this month after having served as CEO for the Silicon Valley-based vendor for just under three years.