Polish Contactless Mobile-Payment Market Continues to Gear Up

Poland’s contactless-mobile payment market continues to warm up, with two NFC trials announced last month and a third trial expected in coming months.

In addition, at least three banks have issued passive contactless stickers, among up to a dozen banks already issuing contactless cards.

Mobile operators Polkomtel and PTC both announced NFC trials in May, partnering with Bank Zachodni WBK and Internet bank Inteligo, respectively. In addition, at least one other, larger, trial is in the works, a source told NFC Times. It might involve PTK Centertel, NFC Times has learned. The telco, which operates under France Telecom's Orange brand in Poland, had earlier said it was working with MasterCard Worldwide and the latter’s PayPass contactless technology.

The only NFC trial in Poland to have launched so far is one announced May 20 by PTC, which is owned by T-Mobile of Germany; and Inteligo, a unit of Poland’s largest financial institution, PKO Bank Polski.

The trial involves 100 Samsung S5230 NFC phones distributed to customers, some employees of the organizers and a few others. SIM cards issued by PTC carry a PayPass debit application, which users can tap at PayPass terminals worldwide, including 8,000 to 10,000 in Poland. They include Polish locations of McDonald’s restaurants, Shell gasoline stations and coffeeheaven, a large café chain in Central and Eastern Europe. Many of the terminals also accept Visa payWave cards.

“NFC is a nice tool to get information, get away from cash payment and includes higher security than traditional cash payment and even plastic payment,” a spokesman for PTC told NFC Times.

The telco, which flies under the Era brand in Poland, also partners with Polbank EFG bank on a passive contactless sticker the bank began issuing late last year with a PayPass payment application onboard. PTC called the sticker offer a “huge commercial success” in its recent announcement of the NFC trial, although it did not release figures on numbers of stickers issued or transactions.

ING bank and Bank Zachodni WBK are also issuing passive contactless stickers in Poland carrying PayPass applications.

In the other NFC project already announced, Polkomtel and Bank Zachodni WBK plan to launch a pilot among 500 of their mutual customers this summer. The trial will also use the NFC version of the Samsung S5230, known as the Avila in Poland. A Visa payWave debit application from the bank will be stored on SIMs issued by Polkomtel, which is partly owned by the UK-based Vodafone Group.

Polkomtel views the project more as a commercial soft launch than a trial. The telco is among other m-payment players in Poland that have expressed interest in rolling out NFC. But a major obstacle remains: The scarcity of NFC phones, at present.

The NFC projects fit into a larger contactless rollout in Poland. About a dozen Polish banks are issuing dual-interface EMV cards supporting PayPass.

And seven or eight banks will be issuing Visa-branded EMV cards carrying Visa payWave by the end of the year, predicted Visa Europe earlier this spring. PKO Bank Polski will lead that rollout, having announced earlier this year it would add payWave to its more than 6 million debit cards. Visa Europe’s Polish branch predicted there would be more than 2 million payWave cards on issue by the end of the year.

All told, Visa and MasterCard expect that by year's end, up to 20,000 contactless point-of-sales terminals in Poland will accept their contactless applications, whether on cards, stickers or phones.


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