In pilot from August 2008 the NFC Contactless mobile payments service is the first Australian mobile application of near-field communication (NFC) payment technology, loading a NAB Visa credit card securely onto a Telstra SIM card within a mobile phone handset.
The proof of concept trial in Melbourne was part of the GSM Association (GSMA) pay-buy-mobile global initiative. This means the technology deployed in the Melbourne trial is eventually meant to be interoperable with the technology being developed and endorsed globally. Unlike localised contactless card or phone trials and closed loop proprietary systems, the GSMA initiative aims to enable consumer users to shop at any contactless enabled merchant around the world when the solution is commercialised.
For consumer users in the trial, making a purchase was as simple as holding their mobile handset in front of a contactless reader at a merchant for the payment transaction to be processed automatically from their NAB Visa credit card account. This technology enables faster and more convenient payments by requiring less time at the checkout and no fumbling around for cash or coins.
The service deployed in the Melbourne trial is a true collaboration of a major bank, global payments network and mobile network operator, as well as various supporting partners in an end-to-end system that is easy for merchants and customers to use, is secure and has a clear set of processes to manage disputed transactions.
The project has demonstrated that key NFC technology benefits can be implemented through innovation in practice including:
- Use of the USIM as the secure element, capable of housing a Visa payment application in a dedicated security domain for a single bank, and connected to an NFC chip through the industry standard Single Wire Protocol (SWP).
- Enabling remote Over-The-Air (OTA) card personalisation, allowing customers to activate their handsets for payment without visiting a bank branch or other distribution point.
- Support for OTA lifecycle management functions, including the ability to block, unblock, or delete an application in the field - as well as the capacity to update offline risk management parameters in a payment application based on the EMV standard for chip-based payment services, thereby allowing a high incidence of quick and convenient offline transaction authorisations.
- Implementation of smart poster technology to provide marketing opportunities and coupons.
Finextra verdict: With all the technology components for NFC infrastructure increasingly available in the volume required for mass roll-out, innovation in contactless payment will come from how the companies involved collaborate to bring useful services to market for consumers. The collaboration between NAB, Visa and Telstra provides a good model for future industry roll-outs.