Near Field Communication (NFC) Services Go Live in Singapore

Been waiting for this! Right now the NFC feature on my Galaxy Nexus is pretty useless, it can only read EZ-Link cards. But in the future, we can finally take public transport and pay using our mobile phones!

Press Release

Singapore, 3 Aug, 2012 – The consortium led by Gemalto today announced its readiness to launch mobile payment services using the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Supported by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the implementation of the interoperable NFC infrastructure, hosted in Gemalto’s Trusted Services Management data centre in Singapore, marks a significant milestone in the Call-for-Collaboration awarded in Oct 2011. Consumers will be empowered with the choice of multiple contactless payment products on their NFC phones, and businesses can deploy new innovative and secured mobile services in a timely and cost efficient manner.

Comprising consortium partners Citibank, DBS, EZ-Link, and all three mobile operators in Singapore – M1, SingTel, StarHub – the multi-bank and multi-telco partnership will launch nation-wide NFC services through a secure, unified and comprehensive third party infrastructure managed by Gemalto. The consortium will be rolling out three credit, pre-paid and stored-value payment services through NFC-enabled mobile phones in the coming weeks, with respective partners announcing the launch details of their specific services including how consumers can apply for and make use of these NFC services.

“As part of IDA’s iN2015 Masterplan, the Next Generation e-Payments Programme promotes technology adoption that realizes the vision of Singapore as a leading e-payments nation,” comments Mr Ronnie Tay, CEO of IDA. “The open access model for NFC infrastructure allows businesses to deploy innovative payment and other secured services, providing convenience to both consumers and merchants, and enabling commerce for all.”

Designed for consumer convenience and confidence, the interoperable NFC infrastructure allows consumers to aggregate multiple payment services from different banks and payment product issuers into a single mobile wallet, giving them easy control of which payment product to use for a specific purchase. As consumers may have multiple banking relationships and want different products to be loaded on their NFC phones, customer care support processes starting from payment product application, activation to product termination have been harmonised across participating banks/telcos to provide a consistent user experience.

Consumers are also assured of security for these new contactless payment services as the NFC infrastructure, SIM cards and handsets have gone through certifications by international payment schemes such as MasterCard and Visa, as well as by industry standards bodies such as GlobalPlatform and EMVCo where applicable. At service launch, consumers can use their NFC-enabled mobile phones to tap and pay at over 30,000 retail points such as convenience stores, fast food outlets, retailers and taxis already equipped with contactless POS terminals. In the near future, consumers can also aggregate an array of retail or F&B merchant loyalty cards and discount coupons, all on a single mobile phone platform.

This cross-industry, open access infrastructure facilitates the entry of new businesses to offer secured NFC services to all mobile subscribers in Singapore, in a timely manner and without the need for dedicated infrastructure or deep technical know-how. Examples of such secured services include tickets or access keys to be provisioned dynamically and securely over-the-air. Merchants can also enhance customer engagement through NFC-enabled advertisements, providing product information, promotional discounts, enabling referrals by customers’ friends on social media etc. IDA will continue to collaborate with the industry to develop such services that maximize the potential of NFC.

“This pioneer launch of an all-inclusive platform allows mobile operators, financial institutions and all the other service providers in Singapore to easily plug into and get on board to offer secure NFC services. The NFC capable SIM cards are already being deployed, the NFC infrastructure is ready and with our MasterCard and VISA certified TSM data center we are able to support customers as they ramp up their large-scale deployment of mobile NFC services,” said Tan Teck Lee, Chief Innovation & Technology Officer and Asia President at Gemalto. “We are happy to see this landmark programme go live as planned, appreciate the benefits it contributes to the country’s economy, and want to thank our customers for their trust and for their confidence in the future.”

A number of NFC handset models from Samsung and Sony have been certified for use with the suite of services to be launched. More NFC handsets will be offered by the mobile operators in the coming months.

Though the deployment is focused on retail payment at the start, IDA and the consortium members are working with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to assess NFC mobile payment readiness for transit in early 2013. As part of the preparation, a public trial will be conducted by EZ-Link in end 2012, in partnership with public transport operators.

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