Customers can now use their mobile phones to make payments on public transport services and at more than 2,000 other businesses by swapping their standard SIM for an NFC SIM+antenna device supplied by Watchdata.
China Unicom has officially launched a commercial NFC service in Beijing, following extensive field testing in the Chinese capital and in the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
The mobile network operator has picked Watchdata's Simpass dual interface SIM+antenna solution for the commercial launch, which took place on 31 December 2010. Subscribers equipped with a Simpass device are able to use their mobile phone as a virtual version of their Yikatong prepaid transportation card and will have the advantage of being able to top up the value held on it over the air.
The Yikatong cards are issued by the Beijing Municipal Administration and Communications Card Company (BMAC), responsible for managing Beijing's transportation card system. Forty million contactless BMAC cards are currently in circulation and the cards are accepted on the Beijing subway, on 50,000 buses and 60,000 taxis as well as 2,000 other businesses such as park and ride car parks, supermarkets, bakeries, fast food stores, pharmacies, cinemas, parks, public telephones and more. More than 10 million RMB (US$1.5m) is currently charged to BMAC card accounts every day.
Simpass is already being used by more than two million people in twenty Chinese cities and provinces as a way to make payments with their mobile phones for public transport and related goods and services and a recent consumer survey conducted for Watchdata has found that the technology scores highly with consumers in terms of convenience:
- 95% of users are active and use Simpass every day
- 79% think Simpass is more convenient than cash- or credit card-based payments
- 50% are very satisfied with its ease of use, performance and durability
Reports in the Chinese press last October suggested that China Unicom was preparing to commercially launch NFC services in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing as well as Beijing in November 2010. While the Beijing service is now live, however, no date has yet been announced for commercial introductions in other cities.