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DBS, StarHub and EZ-Link to begin Singapore NFC pilot in December

The bank, mobile network operator and transport card issuer will be using Gemalto’s N-Flex NFC add-on and plan to launch commercial services towards the end of 2011.

Mastercard Gemalto Upteq N-Flex

SIM+ANTENNA: The Upteq N-Flex device is a SIM together with NFC circuitry and an antenna mounted in a wafer-thin flexible lightweight carrier

Mobile network operator StarHub, transport card issuer EZ-Link and DBS Bank are to begin an NFC pilot in December, in collaboration with MasterCard, with a view to commercially launching the service “in the later part of 2011″.

The trial was first announced in May and will see 1,000 customers of both DBS and StarHub being equipped with Gemalto N-Flex devices, a Single Wire Protocol (SWP) compatible SIM+antenna solution that enables existing mobile phones to be used to make mobile contactless payments. Participants in the eight month trial will be able to use their phone to make payments at merchants that accept either MasterCard PayPass or EZ-Link, as well as on public transportation such as buses and trains.

Prospective participants will receive an email from either StarHub or DBS Bank that contains instructions on how to register online to take part in the pilot. Trialists will then need to visit the StarHub Customer Service Centre at One Raffles Place or attend StarHub roadshows to have the Upteq N-Flex device inserted and mapped onto the SIM cards of their mobile handsets before they can start making payments with their phones.

“With the rapidly expanding use of mobile devices, our customers are increasingly expecting financial services and payments to be offered on their mobile devices,” says DBS Bank’s Ooi Huey Tyng. “We are happy our cardholders will be the first in Singapore that will benefit from the convenience of having the functionality of NFC-enabled chip embedded onto their mobile phones to make payments. Through this, we hope to further promote the adoption of cashless payment in Singapore.”

“With the proliferation of mobile handsets in Singapore, and the growing prominence of mobile payment transactions, we believe now would be a good time to implement this unique NFC solution,” explains StarHub’s Yeong Mun Ling. “Not only will this trial help us measure the level of customer acceptance for the new technology, it will also help us gather critical feedback on how the service can be further enhanced.”

“Through this partnership with industry partners in delivering the first mobile payment device that leverages on the NFC technology in Singapore, EZ-Link believes that its customers will benefit from the convenience of having the functionality of an ez-link card embedded onto their mobile phones,” adds EZ-Link’s Nicholas Lee. “We hope to also promote the adoption of cashless payment by merging it with a device that is already a necessity most Singaporeans carry around with them at all times.”

Last week, Singapore government agency IDA issued a request for proposals for a national NFC trusted service manager, with the aim of introducing commercial services across the country from early 2012.

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