News of Akbank and Visa's trial follows the announcement in May that MasterCard, Garanti Bank and mobile network operator Avea are to begin a commercial NFC service in Turkey this summer.
Visa Europe and Turkey's Akbank have announced that they are to conduct a field test of DeviceFidelity's In2Pay microSD format NFC device. The move follows an agreement signed between Visa Inc and DeviceFidelity in February this year which was expected to lead to a number of field trials taking place around the world from the second quarter of 2010. Apart from Akbank, however, so far only US Bank has revealed plans to take part in a pilot.
In2Pay includes both an antenna and an industry standard dual interface contactless smart card chip that can be loaded with a certified payment application — such as those from Visa or MasterCard — using standard bank card personalisation and card issuing systems. This allows banks and other service providers to offer NFC services to their customers with minimum amendments to their existing infrastructure.
Once an In2Pay microSD card has been personalised with a cardholder's details it can be inserted into one end of a specially designed plastic 'card' which can then be distributed to customers using a standard bank card mailer.
When the customer receives his new device in the mail, he simply detaches the card from the carrier, removes the NFC microSD device from the card and inserts it into his mobile phone. Software then installs and a prompt appears on the screen instructing the customer to enter a password on the phone's keypad. Once that has been done, the customer's handset is NFC-enabled for whatever applications the bank has chosen to install on the In2Pay device.
In the first phase of the project, In2Pay devices will be made available to Akbank customers with BlackBerry handsets, with support for phones supplied by HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola and others to follow later. DeviceFidelity has also developed a protective case which can be used to enable the In2Pay device to work with Apple's iPhone, but there is no mention of iPhone support in the Visa Europe announcement of the Akbank pilot.
Turkish banks have been actively working towards the introduction of near field communication services for several years. In May, Garanti Bank and mobile network operator Avea announced they would introduce a commercial NFC service using a MasterCard branded SIM+antenna solution this summer, Turkcell also plans to introduce a commercial NFC service by the end of 2010 and national payments clearing centre BKM has been working towards a national system since 2008. Some 15,000 points of sale in Turkey have already been equipped to accept MasterCard PayPass contactless transactions and more than 10,000 are able to accept Visa PayWave.