News in brief from the NFC world and beyond: ATM top-ups for travel cards • Visa adds mobile app • New boss for Mobey Forum • Washington Metro to go contactless • Square worth $200M? • Madrid picks Mifare Desfire EV1 • Think&Go NFC gets funding • Enstream adds Western Union to Zoompass • All Google staff to get NFC phones?
ATM TOP-UPS FOR TRAVEL CARDS: HID Global and Wincor Nixdorf have teamed up to offer commuters the ability to top up Mifare and Calypso prepaid travel cards at ATMs. “Historically it has been difficult for payment and ticketing system manufacturers to offer a single reader solution that simultaneously supports closed-loop payment schemes and open-loop debit/credit card schemes on the same reader platform, so that transit riders can, for instance, use an ATM to add funds to a transit pass using a closed-loop fare payment system,” says HID’s René van Ryt. “HID’s fully interoperable, multi-functional cashless payment reader platform delivers this capability. By adding our reader technology to Wincor Nixdorf’s ATM platform, the two companies have created a converged solution with some truly exciting benefits for transit riders and operators.” The solution offers advantages to both banks and transit operators says Wincor Nixdorf’s Thierry Gonnot: “Utilizing an existing ATM network, a transit authority has an ideal means of developing its presence throughout the network… For retail banks, the ATMs allow them to offer a new service to customers, thereby contributing to the profitability of the network.”
VISA ADDS MOBILE APP: Visa has introduced a new application for the iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones that provides US cardholders with a wide range of special offers when they use their Visa card at participating merchants. The app uses geolocation to show cardholders nearby merchants that have offers available to them and users can also choose to restrict the offers they receive to only certain categories of merchant. More than fifty merchants are currently providing offers via the Visa Mobile Application, which was developed in conjunction with UK-based Monitise. They include Planet Hollywood, Papa John’s Pizza, 24-Hour Fitness, Jos A Banks, Tourneau, New York & Company, Holiday Inn, Ramada, Crowne Plaza, Pearle Vision, Meineke, Buca di Beppo, Cold Water Creek and Hard Rock Café.
NEW MOBEY FORUM BOSS: Mobile payments association Mobey Forum has appointed Sirpa Nordlund as its new Executive Director. Nordland previously worked at TSM supplier Venyon, where she was responsible for sales in a number of European markets, and also spent ten years at Nokia where she worked on NFC research and development and in business development. “This is an exciting time for mobile payments and payments in general,” says Nordland. “For mobile payments to achieve its potential and deliver ultimate user convenience, the ecosystem has to have the possibility to interact globally. This means interoperable systems and technology. I believe Mobey Forum is perfectly positioned to assist the market in realising this aim due to its active and diverse membership base, which has dedicated resources for over ten years.”
WASHINGTON METRO TO GO CONTACTLESS: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is seeking a business partner to help develop its next generation electronic ticketing solution. “The request for proposals is the first step in a process to identify a vendor to assist Metro in developing a fare system designed to process payments directly at the gate using technology like contactless, chip-enabled debit and credit cards, which banks are already distributing to customers; federal identification cards; or smart phones equipped with near-field communication capability; as well as existing SmarTrip cards.”
SQUARE WORTH $200M?: Techcrunch reports that Square, the mobile payments processing start up run by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is raising new funding based on a US$200m valuation. The service currently allows small US businesses to accept card payments by attaching a magnetic stripe card reader dongle to an iPhone or Android smartphone but is expected to become NFC compatible in the future. “I am a user of the Square service and as mentioned above the hardware is largely irrelevant,” says one commenter to the Techcrunch article. “The service is the processing. It’s awesome btw. I make a sale and within the hour I see the transaction in my inbox. Within less than 12hrs the money is available to me in my account.”
MADRID PICKS MIFARE DESFIRE EV1: Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid (CRTM), the public transportation system covering the Spanish capital’s subway, bus network and suburban rail network, is to switch to NXP‘s Mifare Desfire EV1 contactless ticketing technology for all season tickets including subsidized travel tickets for younger and retired passengers. The solution will allow multi-application services to be “added seamlessly onto the platform, such as banking convergence cards through the Mifare Desfire EV1 implementations on payment cards or NFC applications on mobile phones,” says NXP.
THINK&GO NFC GETS FUNDING: French start up Think&Go NFC has secured funding from two business angels and Oxo, the main shareholder in leading France-based mobile phone retailer and distributor Avenir Telecom. Think&Go NFC aims to make it easy for service providers to offer NFC services by providing a turnkey package including NFC application software and NFC add-ons. The company plans to use the investment money to accelerate product development and to expand its sales and support network internationally by opening offices in Paris and Singapore. “We are very excited to join the Think&Go NFC venture, and explore the mass-deployment of NFC services” says Jean-Daniel Beurnier, CEO of Oxo and Avenir Telecom. “Our driving force has always been to add value to phones and accessories for our customers, so NFC is a promising key technology that we want to be part of, through Think&Go NFC.”
ENSTREAM ADDS WESTERN UNION TO ZOOMPASS: EnStream, the mobile payments joint venture owned by Canada’s mobile network operators, has added support for Western Union money transfer transactions to its Zoompass mobile wallet service. The service lets users send money to over 200 countries and territories around the world from their mobile phone. Enstream began testing payments via mobile contactless stickers in March last year and plans to make its mobile wallet solution available on NFC phones when they become widely available.
ALL GOOGLE STAFF TO GET NFC PHONES?: ZDNet reports that all Google staff are expected to be provided with a new NFC-enabled Nexus S Android phone.