The mobile phone operator starts delivering on its promise to roll out NFC throughout Europe during 2011, saying opportunities are "virtually limitless".
Mobile phone operator Orange is launching a near field communication (NFC) payment service trial in Poland, as it starts to make good on its promise to roll out the technology throughout Europe this year.
In partnership with Polish bank Bank Zachodni WBK and MasterCard, Orange is providing some 2,000 of its customers with the ability to make PIN-free payments of up to PLN50 (US$17.50 approx) using MasterCard's PayPass system.
Digital security firm Gemalto has been chosen to fulfil the role of trusted service manager for the trial, enabling the NFC payments application to be downloaded over-the-air to compatible handsets so that customers can activate the service without visiting a bank branch or Orange shop.
Poland has been rolling out both contactless cards and POS terminals and participants in the trial will be able to use their NFC phones to make payments in a wide range of merchant outlets including Empik, Smyk, coffeeheaven, Douglas, Żabka, McDonald's, Venezia, Kakadu, Sferis computer stores, Matras bookstores, Shell filling stations, Warsaw ticket machines and selected Ekstraklasa stadiums and other locations accepting MasterCard PayPass and Maestro PayPass cards.
The trial is due to last until the end of August 2011 and customers will be able to join the program during the first three months. Customers will not be charged for the service.
Mariusz Gaca, CEO of PTK Centertel, the company which runs Orange Polska, says the project is proof that opportunities created by mobile phones are "virtually limitless".
"Providing our customers with a mobile phone payment option we are entering another area, after communication or entertainment, in which solutions offered by Orange and its partners make their lives easier," he said.
"PayPass mobile phone payments perfectly fit in our strategy of offering innovative and user-friendly solutions. I believe that our customers will be fond of the service and that contactless payments will become more popular."
To sign up for the service, customers need a Bank Zachodni WBK account and to choose a Samsung Avila (S5230) phone with NFC compatibility when signing or renewing a contract with Orange.
Loyalty points can be gained for each transaction, and payments over the PLN50 limit can be made using a PIN number.
Bank Zachodni WBK's Tadeusz Kościński added he was confident the bank's customers would be receptive to the new technology. "Our customers are open to innovative mobile solutions, which makes us believe that MasterCard PayPass mobile phone payments will be welcomed by them and that they will become an important element of the competitive advantage building process for us."
The announcement comes after Orange said in December 2010 that it aimed to begin introducing NFC services "in the majority of countries in which it has a presence" this year. The mobile network operator has also committed to stocking the new Samsung Wave 578 NFC phone in Poland as well as in Spain and France from the second quarter of this year.