Spanish Bank and Virtual Operator to Launch NFC Trial

BARCELONA ­– Spanish bank Bankinter plans to launch a small NFC trial within the next month with its mobile virtual network operator, Bankinter Mobile.

The bank plans to test mobile payment at its headquarters in Madrid, putting a Visa payWave application onto SIM cards inserted into Samsung Star NFC phones, according to Andrés Fontao, head of mobile banking for Bankinter. The trial will be conducted among a small number of bank employees and perhaps later some family members. They will be able to tap to pay at about 10 merchant locations that the bank will equip with payWave terminals at its three-building headquarters, mainly cafeterias and some small shops.

"What we are doing is positioning ourselves to be ready (with NFC) as soon as it goes to mass market," said Fontao, speaking today in Barcelona at the Mobile Payment Services conference organized by IIR.

Bankinter, which launched its own mobile phone services with a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, using excess capacity of network operator Orange in Spain, sees itself as an innovator among Spanish banks. It has more than 700,000 banking customers, 80% of whom do mobile banking by SMS and half of whom bank via the Internet, said Fontao. It’s small mobile operator has 30,000 customers, all acquired over the Internet, he said.

The bank, however, has had trouble procuring the Samsung S5230 Star, one of the few NFC phones available of any kind at present. The phone supports NFC applications on SIM cards. Fontao said that Telefónica Móviles, Spain’s largest operator, had either bought up all of the phones that Samsung had allocated to the Spanish market or established an exclusive distribution deal with Samsung for Spain, because the handset maker told Bankinter it could not sell it any phones, even in small quantities. The bank instead is getting the phones from a source outside of Spain, probably Netherlands-based telco KPN, which is assisting the bank on the NFC trial and the MVNO. Telefónica has been holding its own NFC trials in Spain, including one with la Caixa bank in the town of Sitges.

Bankinter hopes to roll out NFC broadly to its mobile customers when more NFC phones become available, Fontao said.


Article comments

Kgahliso Sep 9 2011

I cannot find the findings of Bankinter's first NFC mobile payments trial. Please help

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