Russian mobile network operator MegaFon has announced it is to issue NFC-compatible contactless stickers that subscribers will be able to use to pay for St Petersburg Metro tickets, the St Petersburg Times reports:
The project is based on NFC (Near Field Communication) technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over a small distance. The cost of one journey will be deducted from the cell phone account. A special sticker put on the phone will enable the system to work, while the sim card does not need to be replaced, explained Lyudmila Chekhova, a spokesperson for the northwest branch of Megafon.
The cost of the service will be determined before its commercial launch, and users will be able to activate the service at the network operator's office. In terms of technology, Megafon will be ready for the launch by the end of the year, said Chekhova.
A separate NFC trial is already undergoing internal testing by metro staff, the St Petersburg Times continues:
The St. Petersburg Metropolitan is currently testing a similar project by American company Ambiq Technology. In the middle of this year, it submitted a proposal to City Hall to launch a system that would make it possible to make payments with a chip compatible with any cell phone sim card. On March 22, an agreement between Ambiq and the city's Committee for Economic Development, Industrial Policy and Trade was signed. Metro employees are carrying out the testing, said Maria Azarova, CEO of Ambik Tek SPb, Ambiq's daughter company in St. Petersburg.
She does not consider Megafon to be a direct competitor: "Our technology is not connected with the mobile operator's account; it is based on bank accounts and can be applied more widely. It can be used instead of discount cards or to provide identification when set up to access data bases."
Meanwhile, mobile network operator MTS is field testing NFC on the Moscow Metro. MTS subscribers can visit special kiosks at Moscow Metro stations to equip their phones with a SIM+antenna solution that enables them to charge their travel costs to their mobile phone bill.