China's second largest mobile network operator is preparing to launch commercial NFC services in four cities from next month, according to reports in the Chinese media. Commuters in Beijing will be able to make payments using either an NFC phone or an add-on to their existing phone.
China Unicom is to launch commercial NFC payments services in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing next month, according to a number of reports in the Chinese media.
In Beijing, a deal with Beijing Municipal Administration and Communications Card Co (BMAC) is expected to see commuters being able to pay for their transport tickets via either a new phone with built-in near field communication capabilities or, with the addition of Watchdata's SimPass NFC add-on, with their existing phone.
Reports suggest that the new service will provide subscribers with a prepaid account on their phone that can be loaded with up to 1,000 yuan (US$150 approx) and can then be topped up as required. A deal with bank card association China UnionPay (CUP), meanwhile, will enable subscribers to top up at CUP ATMs and deals with individual banks, such as China Unicom's existing agreement with Bank of Communications, are expected to follow.
China Unicom is the country's second largest mobile network operator and is already heavily committed to the introduction of near field communication technology. It is working with payments card association China UnionPay to develop NFC standards and, in August, signed a strategic partnership with the Chongqing Municipal Government which is aimed at turning the region into a $7bn world leader in NFC manufacturing and innovation.