South African bank Absa is to launch live user trials of NFC technology on mobile phones.
The trial will kick off in mid-December and involve 500 of the bank's own staff members, operating in a live commercial environment.
Participants will be equipped with MicroSD cards supporting Blackberry handsets and MasterCard PayPass.
Upon registration, users will be able to load cash into the wallet from the Internet or at point-of-sale terminals. The bank plans to charge a minimum 2.5% fee for each reload.
Transactions will be initially supported at certain Absa campuses, the Vodacom campus in Midrand, and the transit system in Cape Town.
Arrie Rautenbach, head of retail markets at Absa, says: "The trial paves the way for consumer market utilisation of the mobile phone as a payment device by using the revolutionary NFC technology. While this trial will facilitate low value payments in retail and transit in early stages, we envision many more exciting new forms of mobile payment in the future."
South Africa's Standard Bank in October dismissed mobile payments as a cumbersome Western banking fad, arguing that explosive growth in pre-paid money vouchers in South Africa had killed off prospects for the more technologically advanced mobile wallet.