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Lack of handsets continues to delay Etisalat’s commercial NFC service

A lack of commercially available handsets is continuing to cause frustration at Dubai-based mobile network operator Etisalat.

Etisalat originally announced in October 2009 that it would launch a commercial NFC service. But, in May this year, Etisalat and rival operator Du both said that a lack of handsets had forced them to delay their NFC plans.

Now a further trial is to take place with Samsung’s S5230 NFC phone and the operator is also looking at the potential of NFC peripherals to move the market forward, Gulf News reports:

Delays by handset manufacturers have postponed etisalat’s plans to launch Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows users to make contactless payments using their mobile phones, in the UAE by more than a year, a telecom operator official said.

Rashid Al Abbar, director of M-commerce at etisalat, said yesterday on the sidelines of Telecoms World Middle East that a second pilot would be launched soon to test the technology, with Samsung’s new NFC touchscreen smartphone. “The issue has been the handsets… that is the challenge,” he said.

In partnership with Emirates NBD, the technology that allows contactless payment involves a handset with NFC capability with a SIM card facilitating data link-up with a credit card. Readers — Visa paywave devices — which will enable such transactions have been distributed to several food and clothing outlets, Al Abbar said.

“We have almost close to 1,000 outlets across the UAE for making the payment…[and] are distributing these phones to close user groups of etisalat and the bank,” he said, adding that there is no schedule yet for the commercial introduction of the technology.

“Right now we are testing it [the smartphone] with the bank.”

Al Abbar said one of the technologies being tested involved peripherals that would obviate the need for users to buy a new handset to use the technology.

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