All three of Singapore's mobile network operators are now offering commercial NFC services, enabling consumers to make purchases at more than 20,000 merchant points of sale across Singapore.
The launches come ten months after a contract to develop a national NFC infrastructure for Singapore was awarded by government agency IDA to a consortium of companies which now includes the three carriers, transportation card issuer EZ-Link, DBS Bank, Citibank, and NFC technology provider Gemalto.
StarHub was the first to announce it was ready to launch commercial services earlier this month and, on 22 August, both M1 and SingTel announced their services were now live.
All three carriers are enabling customers to store an EZ-Link prepaid card account on their NFC phone. This can be used to pay for goods and services at more than 20,000 merchants in Singapore, including taxis, supermarkets and fast food chains. StarHub customers can also store a DBS One.Tap card on their NFC phone while M1 subscribers can make use of an M1 NFC Prepaid MasterCard. All three carriers also promise additional services in the future.
Although EZ-Link began life as a transportation card and the company's existing contactless cards can be used to both make payments for public transportation and purchase items from merchants, the current NFC version of EZ-Link only supports payments in stores. "Your NFC-enabled phones with the NFC EZ-Link purse will only be accepted for payments on public transportation such as buses and trains, SMRT and Premier Taxis at a later date," the company explains. NFC phones can also not yet be used to make payments for Singapore's electronic parking system (EPS) or electronic road pricing (ERP) services.
Android NFC phone users can download the EZ-Link NFC mobile application from the Google Play store. The app allows customers to check transaction history and balances, top-up their EZ-Link purse with any debit or credit card and sign-up for Activate! — a complimentary EZ-Link programme which enables the purse to be blocked and credit to be refunded if a customer's phone is lost or stolen.
SingTel customers can make use of the EZ-Link NFC app without any additional monthly subscription charges and, for those who sign up by 30 September, S$5 (US$3.99) will be credited to their EZ-Link purse. The usual S$5 administrative fee will also be waived for those that sign up early. Customers can then top up their EZ-Link purse over-the-air as required, or by visiting People's Association community clubs, EZ-Link top-up machines, DBS/POSB ATMs or via the EZ-Online service.
M1, meanwhile, promises that "customers who top up their M-Cards with the M1 NFC Prepaid MasterCard will also enjoy additional bonus airtime."
"This is a major milestone for mobile payments and our customers can look forward to more NFC-based products and services in the future to enhance their connected life and work", says P Subramaniam, M1's chief marketing officer.
"The NFC solution that we are launching today is the first of many innovative mobile services that SingTel will unveil," says Ms Gan Siok Hoon, SingTel's VP of m-commerce. "We will progressively launch differentiated services that enhance our customers' lifestyles and provide them with a unique mobile commerce experience, ranging from payments to value-added services."