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NFC proves popular in Swiss trial

More than 90% of the participants in a small scale Swiss trial say they will use NFC when it becomes commercially available.

SWISS TEST: Triallists loved NFC, but "before any potential rollout can go ahead other important questions need to be clarified", says Credit Suisse

SWISS TEST: Triallists loved NFC, but 'before any potential rollout can go ahead other important questions need to be clarified', says Credit Suisse

A near field communication trial in Switzerland has been hailed a resounding success by participants, with 90% saying they liked the ease and convenience of making payments via NFC and the same percentage saying they will use the technology when it becomes commercially available.

In terms of a commercial rollout, however, the position is less positive. “Although from a technical point of view an imminent rollout would be possible, certain requirements for commercial implementation still have to be met,” says Credit Suisse, which ran the trial in conjunction with PostFinance, SIX Multipay, Swisscard, Swisscom and Visa Europe. “Discussions on these requirements are ongoing.”

The trial involved 171 employees of Credit Suisse, Swisscard and SIX Multipay and ran from September until November 2008. Participants could make payments at their staff restaurants using either a contactless Visa credit card or an NFC phone loaded with a Visa payWave application.

“Feedback given by the test participants points to a variety of factors that are of key importance for the success of contactless payment,” says Credit Suisse. “The number of acceptance points, for example, is one of these factors. Test participants see big advantages in the new payment solution, especially at points of sale with a normally high percentage of cash payments and a need for fast payment processing. A large number of participants expressed the wish to be able to pay contactlessly at kiosks and public transport ticket dispensers.”

“Commercialisation depends on other factors,” Credit Suisse added, however. “The test showed that paying by mobile phone works from a technical point of view, is easy and convenient, and meets with client interest. However, before any potential rollout can go ahead other important questions need to be clarified and key success factors achieved. For example, a wide selection of NFC-capable mobile telephones and a dense network of acceptance points are relevant factors that are not yet in place.”

Last month, Switzerland’s three leading telcoms operators formed a work group designed to address these issues, open to all interested parties.

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