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National NFC-initiative introduces contactless payment as well as further services for mobile phones in Austria

Austria’s leading companies from the sectors banking, credit card, card personalization, information and communication technologies such as AUSTRIACARD, Card Complete, Drei, Erste Bank, First Data Austria, MasterCard, Nexperts, PayLife Bank, T-Mobile and Visa established the so called “Wallet Initiative” in order to create an open, nationwide standard for mobile wallets.

With this mobile wallet consumers will not only be able to pay contactless with their mobile phone via a mobile card, but they will also able to use special offers like loyalty cards, vouchers, and coupons at cash desks by simply touching them. The integration of MasterCard and Visa cards into a mobile wallet offers the highest possible flexibility for contactless payment to the customers.

Through this cooperation it is ensured that services from different providers and sectors such as commerce, transport, ticketing, security, and banking are offered to customers in a mobile wallet based on an integrated technology approach through Near Field Communication (NFC). Thus isolated solutions should be avoided and the acceptance and customer satisfaction of contactless applications need to be assured in all sectors.

With this project Austria will serve as a prime example for the use of mobile payment and mobile loyalty (customer loyalty programs) under the commitment of NFC. There is also a special NFC-SIM card which is going to be provided by mobile network operators and assure special security. This is all possible thanks to NFC technology, which provides safe data transmission within short distances (4cm).

The involved partners started this project in Austria to create a customer friendly environment for smartphone NFC applications. Currently the focus is on mobile payments i.e. the contactless payment via smartphones at cash desks. In addition, the basis for the integration of further NFC services should be achieved in order to provide an easy extension to other sectors. The involved companies cooperate with regard to the technical development, performance, and realization. At the moment the first tests are run, while a nationwide pilot project will start in fall 2013. The solutions should be market-ready in 2014.

Based on NFC technology mobile and contactless payment belongs to the latest developments on the payment market. Customers as well as retailers profit from the dropping out of small change, due to shorter waiting times in queues and quicker payment. International projects in sectors such as public transport, access control, and mobile payment proved their value, as well as the customer’s desire to merge the various applications. This is where the wallet initiative offers one consistent solution to the end users.

Card based contactless payment has already been introduced in Austria by numerous banks and retailers, driven by the increasing availability of contactless payment terminals in trade.