Feature Articles

Overview of NFC Services by Telcos

By Sidney Wong - 24 Aug 2012

Closer Look at The NFC Services

NFC Services Finally Arrive in Singapore

In October 2011, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) launched an initiative, the Call-for-Collaboration (CFC) to bring together seven companies (Gemalto Pte Ltd, Citibank Singapore Ltd, DBS Bank Ltd, EZ-Link Pte Ltd, M1 Limited, SingTel Mobile Singapore Pte Ltd and StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd) in Asia's first interoperable nationwide deployment of Near Field Communications (NFC) mobile payment system.

A  total investment of S$40 million is used to deploy the Trusted Third Party (TTP) infrastructure which is operated by Gemalto, a company specializing in digital security. Gemalto will also work with service providers to deploy NFC mobile value-added services. Initially, at least three NFC mobile payment services were stated to be ready in mid 2012.

However, the deployment seemed to be slightly delayed till early August when Gemalto finally announced that it is ready to launch mobile payment services using NFC technology. On the same day, StarHub unveiled its SmartWallet app in collaboration with DBS, EZ-Link and Mastercard. SmartWallet and its suite of contactless payment and lifestyle services will be commercially available soon. M1 and SingTel made their respective announcements yesterday.

*Update on 28/3/2013: M1 announced the launch of DBS One.Tap as part of its NFC services.

For the average consumer out there, the new services may be a little too confusing and overwhelming. That's where this article comes into play - to help you get a better understanding of what each telco has to offer.  

Telcos  M1 SingTel StarHub
Name of NFC Payment Service
  • M1 Mobile Wallet
  • SingTel mPayment
  • StarHub SmartWallet
  • DBS One.Tap
  • M1 NFC Prepaid Mastercard
  • NFC EZ-Link card
  • NFC EZ-Link purse
  • DBS One.Tap
  • NFC FEVO Prepaid Mastercard
  • NFC EZ-Link purse
Supported Devices
NFC SIM Card Cost
  • New customers: $26.75
  • Existing customers: $19.25
  • New customers: $32.10 + $10.70 (registration)
  • Existing customers: $19.26
  • New customers: $37.45
  • Existing customers: $21.40
 Service Activation
  •  $9.10
  •  Free
  • Free until end of March 2013. $10 charge applies thereafter.
 Monthly Subscription
  •  Free
  •  Free
  •  Free
Activation of Payment Services
  • NFC Prepaid Mastercard Top Up Value - as per customer's instruction
  • $5 for NFC EZ-Link top-up value
  • $10 for NFC EZ-Link purse
    ($5 preload value + S$5 for NFC EZ-Link purse)

    *Waiver of $5 administrative fee and receive $5 complimentary stored value in the EZ-link purse when you sign up by 30th Sep 2012
  • $5 for NFC EZ-Link purse
    (Promotional price, valid till 30th Sep 2012, U.P $10)
  • $17 for NFC EZ-Link ($5) and NFC FEVO Mastercard ($12)
    (Promotional price, valid till 30th Sep 2012, U.P $22)
 Security Mechanisms
  • 6 numeric digits passcode to access M1 Mobile Wallet
  • A number of security features such as pass code protection, will be offered in the mobile wallet services that SingTel is launching in the coming months. To be further advised.
  • 6 digit passcode to access any NFC service
  • Auto locking of SmartWallet after five incorrect passcode entries
  • 30 secs timeout for executing each transaction
  • Auto shut down of SmartWallet after two minutes of inactivity
 Multi-SIM Support
  • Available on the primary SIM (which must be installed on the M1 endorsed NFC phone)
  • Available in Sep 2012 and supported for primary SIM only
  • Available on the primary SIM only.


For now, M1 offers the lowest charges ($26.75 + $9.10) for new subscribers signing up for the NFC payment service. However, when it comes to existing customers, M1 and SingTel offer the lowest at $19.26 with no service activation. In terms of security, StarHub leads the pack with four security mechanisms in place to minimize fraud and misuse cases. 

In terms of supported devices, all the telcos support the Sony Xperia S, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S Advance (M1 and SingTel), Galaxy S III (M1 and StarHub). In case you're wondering why only certain models are supported at this moment, all NFC phones being utilized in Singapore are to be certified by Gemalto, Visa, MasterCard and local payment service providers (e.g. EZ-Link) to ensure compatibility with the local payment infrastructure.

As such, all three telcos stated that they will continue to work with their partners to expand the list of endorsed NFC phone models. Do expect major phone vendors to jump on the NFC bandwagon in the near future.

Other Notable NFC Applications in the Industry

For example, Nokia introduced the Singapore NFC Hub, which is a site that allows businesses to order NFC tags and posters for commercial purposes. Nokia also partnered with ComfortDelGro to offer an NFC-enabled option as part of its FastCall automated taxi booking services at over 400 locations across Singapore.

Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry devices, unveiled the BlackBerry Tag for NFC-enabled BlackBerry devices such as the Bold 9900 where users can share contact information, documents and URLs through a single tap.

As seen in the table above, Sony is another active player in the NFC scene. Earlier this year, Sony gave us a comprehensive demonstration of its phones' NFC connectivity features with its SmartTags.

User Set-Up Guides

The three telcos have quite detailed user guides to their respective NFC payment services. Below are the links: 

M1 SingTel StarHub


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