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Australia’s first NFC trial hailed a success

Telstra, National Australia Bank and Visa say participants in a three month trial in Melbourne have given the thumbs up to the technology and the companies will now continue to work towards a commercial NFC launch.

POSITIVE: 90% of trial participants were very or extremely satisfied

POSITIVE: 90% of triallists were very or extremely satisfied

The results from Australia’s first near field communication payments trial show a strong appetite for the technology amogst consumers and give Telstra, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Visa the impetus to continue to work towards commercialisation of the technology, the companies say.

The three month trial, part of the GSM Association’s global Pay-Buy-Mobile initiative, began in August 2008 at Melbourne’s Docklands and was designed as a proof-of-concept trial of the Single Wire Protocol (SWP) approach to NFC.

Consumers were equipped with an NFC handset and a Telstra SIM onto which they downloaded over the air a NAB Visa credit card software application. They could then use their phone to purchase goods and services valued at up to A$35 at Visa payWave enabled readers at participating merchants. The costs of purchases were then charged back to their NAB Visa credit card account.

“The trial exceeded expectations, with a clear consumer demand emerging for contactless mobile payments and services during the trial, leading the three organisations to continue to explore opportunities in this area in the next few years,” the companies report.

Consumers involved in the trial have provided extremely positive feedback:

  • 90% of trial participants were very or extremely satisfied with the contactless mobile phone payment system
  • 95% of trial participants said they were likely or extremely likely to use this technology in the future
  • 78% of participants said paying using a mobile phone was better than cash

Feedback from the merchants that took part in the trial was also positive, with participants reporting contactless mobile phone payments as a quicker, more efficient and convenient way to serve customers.

David Thodey, Telstra Enterprise & Government’s group managing director, said convenience was the key appeal for participants. “Overwhelmingly the trial participants told us that they saw genuine value in the ability to make smaller transactions, such as for coffees and papers, with a wave of the phone rather than fumbling for change,” he explained. “Importantly the businesses that took part in the trial were strong supporters of the technology, seeing it as a way to boost their productivity by serving customers faster.”

John Salamito, NAB’s regional general manager for consumer product solutions, was also very positive. “Now we know that mobile payments can work successfully in a real environment, revealing a strong consumer and merchant demand for such services, we are looking at ways to launch this into the Australian market,” he said.

Chris Clark, Visa’s general manager for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, said the trial confirmed the appeal of mobile payments, particularly for use in high-speed environments such as supermarkets, cafes, food stores, parking stations, vending machines and petrol stations. “The trial showed consumers consider contactless mobile payments to be one of the hottest new technologies on the horizon, with 90% of participants saying they expect it will become a standard way to make a payment in the future. This is an extremely strong endorsement and validates our belief that mobile payments have the potential to transform the way Australians make everyday payments,” he explained.

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