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Citibank to expand mobile 'contactless' payments program

John Ribeiro | March 4, 2010
After a pilot in Bangalore, it plans to expand the service to other cities in Asia and Europe

The technology and card data can for example be programmed into microSD cards that fit into the relevant slots in mobile phones, and would cost between US$7 and $10 at large volumes, Ramchandran said. The card data could also be embedded into stickers that can be stuck on the insides of the back cover of the phone, and would cost much less, he added.

The cost of the cards or stickers would typically be borne by the customers, Ramchandran said.

Of the estimated 30 million cards in India, Citibank expects that about 10 million will be moved to mobile payments using NFC in the next five years. As the current plastic card is not a "broken technology" and still works very well for a lot of users, the transition to NFC may not be rapid, Ramchandran added.

The banks will earn revenue from charges for the use of their cards, mobile service providers will benefit from data charges, while handset makers will earn money from sales of handsets that support NFC, Ramchandran said.

While the rollout across India would depend on banks quickly including support for NFC in the readers they distribute to merchants, and on regulatory issues, the rollouts in countries like Taiwan and Korea and some parts of Europe may be faster, Ramchandran said.

In Taiwan, for example, there are already readers that support NFC at many point-of-sale locations, and deployment of "contactless" services would be faster, once the issue of getting handsets to support NFC is solved, he added.


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