If all goes according to plan, consumers in Singapore will be able to take advantage of rapid cashless payments for their purchases through a new Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to be widely introduced in mobile devices from the middle of next year.
A short-range communication technology that provides simple and two-way interactions among electronic devices, the NFC will allow consumers to "tap" and pay for their purchases at more than 20,000 retail points and taxis, through the use of their NFC-equipped mobile phones.
Businesses can also provide interactive and targeted contents to consumers through NFC-enabled digital signages located at more than 600 locations in major shopping malls and office buildings throughout Singapore.
This new payment channel is made possible through the Call-for-Collaboration (CFC) by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) with industry players to deploy a nationwide interoperable NFC infrastructure. Through an appointed neutral Trusted Third Party (TTP), payment and other service providers will be able to reach all mobile subscribers through the three mobile operators in Singapore.
The CFC has been awarded to a consortium comprising 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.
According to the IDA, the participation by major players together with all mobile operators makes this collaboration the first interoperable nationwide deployment of NFC mobile payment system in Asia.
"The TTP infrastructure will enable prospective service providers to reach out to all mobile subscribers in Singapore. The CFC award today is an important milestone in the development of the NFC ecosystem that will enable the deployment of payment as well as other services," said RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, CEO of IDA.
Gemalto will be developing and operating the TTP infrastructure. DBS, EZ-Link and Citibank will enable a wide range of their credit/ debit scheme cards and stored value payment products, to be issued over-the-air through Gemalto, and stored on the secure chips in their customers' NFC-enabled mobile phones.
These customers will be able to pay for their purchases using any of those payment products at NFC-ready retail points. The services will be launched progressively across all three mobile operators (M1, SingTel and StarHub) from the middle of next year.
Besides payment services, Gemalto will also be collaborating with service providers to deploy a range of innovative NFC mobile value-added services such as interactive digital signage advertising, mobile coupons and mobile ticketing. This will allow consumers to interact with these digital signage advertisements and download coupons, tickets and product information onto their NFC-enabled mobile phones.
IDA and the seven companies will be investing a total of S$40 million (US$31.6 million) through the CFC to deploy the TTP infrastructure and more than 10 NFC mobile payment and value-added services by 2014. The services will be rolled out progressively, with at least 3 NFC mobile payment services made available from mid 2012.
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