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China Mobile begins commercial rollout of mobile contactless payments system

RF SIMs are now widely available for subscribers to purchase from China Mobile stores and the first major retailer has signed up to accept the new mobile contactless payments technology.

WuMart logo

MERCHANT: WuMart is the first major retailer to adopt RF SIM technology

China Mobile has begun the commercial deployment of mobile contactless payments based on RF SIM technology.

The new SIMs, which incorporate both a payments chip and a contactless antenna, are now widely available from China Mobile stores and can be purchased for a one-off fee of ¥150 (US$22 approx). Subscribers can then simply replace their existing SIM with the new RF SIM and instantly begin to use their existing phone to make payments at the point of sale.

And, while there is only a very limited number of locations at which the RF SIMs can currently be used, the first major retailer has now signed up to begin accepting them soon.

Under the terms of an agreement between WuMart Stores and China Mobile, subscribers equipped with the new RF SIMs will be able to use their phones to make payments, collect loyalty points and recharge their account balance at three hundred WuMart and MerryMart supermarkets in the Beijing area.

RF SIM front
RF SIM reverse

FIRST PICS: RF SIMs can now be bought in China Mobile stores for around US$22 (Click to enlarge)

Shoppers will be able to spend up to ¥500 (US$73 approx) per transaction in the stores and, according to an Alibaba.com news report, “China Mobile Beijing branch is also under negotiation with relevant departments to involve public transportation into its cellphone service.”

As we reported earlier this week, three million RF SIMs are currently being produced for China Mobile by Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology (JCET) and the technology is also set to be used extensively at the Shanghai World Expo. The RF SIMs will be used to store customers’ entry tickets and, possibly, for the purchase of public transport tickets to the event and to make payments at on-site vendors.

RF SIM is a competing technology to NFC which carries both a significant advantage and a significant disadvantage. Because it operates at a higher frequency than NFC (2.4GHz rather than 13.56MHz) it is incompatible with existing contactless ticketing systems such as FeliCa and Mifare and with contactless payments systems such as Visa’s PayWave and MasterCard’s PayPass.

But the higher frequency used in RF SIM technology also means that a much smaller antenna can be used, enabling both the payments/ticketing chip and the RF antenna to be produced in a single package that fits within a mobile phone’s standard SIM slot.

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