Not quite the mid-year launch that was promised earlier, but at least, smart phone users will soon get a taste of NFC (Near Field Communication) services in Singapore. Gemalto has finally announced that it is ready to launch mobile payment services using NFC technology in Singapore. Come end-August, consumers will be offered a choice of multiple contact-less payment products on their NFC phones, while businesses will have the option of deploying secured mobile services. Supported by IDA, implementation of the interoperable NFC infrastructure will be hosted in Gemalto's local Trusted Services Management data center.
Citibank, DBS, EZ-Link, M1, SingTel, and StarHub, will launch the 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 following weeks.
Designed for consumer convenience and confidence, the NFC infrastructure enables consumers to combine multiple payment services from different banks and payment product issuers into a single mobile wallet, offering them control of which payment product to use for a specific purchase. Customer-care support processes, starting from payment product application, activation, to product termination, have been attuned across participating banks and telcos to provide a consistent user experience.
SIM cards and handsets have also gone through certifications by international payment schemes like MasterCard and Visa, and industry bodies such as GlobalPlatform and EMVCo to guarantee security for these new contact-less payment services. At service launch, consumers can use their NFC-enabled devices to tap and pay at over 30,000 retail points, including convenience stores, fast food outlets, and retailers.
A number of NFC handset models from Samsung (Galaxy S III, Galaxy S Advance) and Sony (Xperia S, Xperia P, Xperia Sola - StarHub-exclusive) have also been certified for use with the suite of services launched. In addition, more NFC handsets will be offered by the mobile operators in the coming months. For NFC-less devices, jacket solutions or sleeves and SD cards embedded with secure elements will be made available in the near future. The experience has been said to be similar or identical. Nonetheless, all three telcos are working to certify more NFC-enabled devices as newer, upcoming handsets will come with NFC connectivity.
Though the deployment is focused on retail payment at the onset, IDA and the consortium members are working with LTA to assess NFC mobile payment readiness for transit in early 2013. As part of the preparation, a public trial - its scale is still under discussion and will be announced later - will be conducted by EZ-Link with all three telcos involved in end 2012, in partnership with public transport operators.