Taiwan's largest mobile network operator's NFC payment service has gone live and four banks will now begin the roll-out of Chunghwa Telecom's mobile credit card service, which enables Mastercard PayPass credit cards to be issued over-the-air to customers' NFC-enabled SIMs, starting with Cathay United Bank.
Three other financial institutions — ChinaTrust Commercial Bank, Taishin International Bank and E-Sun Bank — are set to follow within the next couple of weeks. The move follows permission to proceed being granted by the country's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) last month.
Joseph Kuo, managing director of the value added services department at Chunghwa Telecom, told NFC World: "The Financial Supervisory Commission finally agreed to allow banks to issue credit cards over the air to mobile phones.
"We got this permission a month ago and since, we have been trying to commercialise it and bring it to the market. Before mass roll out of the service, the Commission wants us to take it one step at a time.
"So, today the service has gone live on a small scale following the trial and only to Chunghwa and the bank's employees. This means that they can now download a Mastercard credit card to Chunghwa's Hami digital wallet on their phone and pay for transport fares and for in-store purchases using NFC.
"The general public can also start applying to use the service as of today and it should be made available to them by the end of this year but I think it might be even sooner than the end of this year if there are no security issues and everything goes to plan with the first roll out of the service."
The NFC SIM cards for the service are provided by digital security company Gemalto and Chunghwa's own Mastercard-certified TSM is to be used for the service. The telco also announced in January that it has teamed up with other mobile network operators to create a national TSM platform to deliver further NFC services.
"We have seen NFC handsets gaining popularity in Taiwan lately," Kuo continued. "Phones including Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II have been popular and they all house support for NFC.
"We expect a lot of people to take advantage of this service when it is finally rolled out in full. We have results from a focus group study that support my view. The results show overwhelmingly that people love the idea of an NFC mobile service and showed that they would love to use the service.
"NFC is a very maturing market in Taiwan at the minute and personally, I think NFC is only going to get more and more popular."