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NFC trial begins at Mobile World Congress

Four hundred Samsung Star NFC handsets are being distributed to selected Mobile World Congress attendees for use at the event, which opens in Barcelona today.

Participants can use their NFC phones to pay for food and drink up to a value of €75 at over 30 merchant locations around the Congress.

GSMA, Telefonica, Visa and Samsung, with Giesecke & Devrient, Ingenico, ITN International and La Caixa have teamed up to deliver the service at the event.

The NFC handsets contain Telefonica SIM cards from O2 pre-loaded with €60 airtime credit as well as a La Caixa Visa Mobile Payment Application.

Participants in the trial will be able to purchase food and drink, simply by holding their Samsung NFC mobile phone against the contactless terminal at the participating merchants to pay for purchases under €10. Purchases above €10 require a passcode which the participant keys into the handset before presenting it to the terminal. The transactions are authorised online, with funds deducted from a La Caixa Visa account.

“It is a fantastic achievement to bring a full payment trial to Mobile World Congress and a testament to the hard work of the partners that this cross-industry collaboration has worked so well,” says Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA. “Mobile operators have been requesting SIM-based NFC handsets for some time now and it’s great to see such progress in this area. Now that the handsets are coming, we can expect to see a number of commercial launches of mobile SIM-based NFC services this year.”

“The partners have worked successfully to bring the NFC experience to Mobile World Congress with the intention of raising awareness of this technology in anticipation of the commercial launch of these SIM based handsets in the very near future,” says the official announcement. “As more of the SIM based handsets become commercially available it will help trigger global adoption and rollout of mobile NFC. Mobile NFC services will change the way people transact with their phones, everything from payments, travelling and ticketing will be transformed to ensure ease and convenience in the lifestyles of consumers around the world.”

The partners’ roles in the project included:

  • GSMA acted as the project lead, leveraging its Pay-Buy-Mobile initiative which, supported by over 50 mobile operators, has been working to make SIM-based NFC payment services a reality.
  • Samsung Electronics provided the NFC-enabled Samsung Star handsets and offered technical support to ensure the stability of the trial.
  • Telefonica provided the user interface enabling display and management of the core payment application on the handset, the O2 Wallet.
  • Visa provided the Visa Mobile Payment Application, a made-for-mobile contactless payment application, to La Caixa and Telefonica for use within the O2 SIM cards with €60 preloaded airtime credit. Visa coordinated activities with La Caixa, Telefonica, Ingenico and G&D to ensure that the accounts, O2 Wallet, terminals and SIM cards were Visa-compliant and mobile contactless ready.
  • La Caixa have issued accounts and have credited them with €75; La Caixa is also serving as the acquiring bank for the participating merchants.
  • Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) manufactured the NFC-enabled SIM cards and personalised them with a La Caixa Visa Mobile Payment Application, allowing the Samsung NFC mobile phone to make EMV mobile payments by connecting to the SIM card through the standardised Single Wire Protocol (SWP).
  • Ingenico provided the participating merchants around the FIRA exhibition hall with unique colour screen contactless EFT930G wireless payment terminals, enabling participants to pay for food and drink by simply presenting their mobile phone at the terminal.
  • ITN International, a mobile data management company for the event marketing industry, was a founding member of the NFC experience at Mobile World Congress.

Last week, Telefonica announced it is to run an NFC trial in the Spanish resort of Sitges, 40km from Barcelona, from May this year. The trial will be run in conjunction with Visa and La Caixa. The 1,500 participants will be able to use their Samsung phones at 500 shops in Sitges and the project could expand later to Barcelona and beyond.

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