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Absa starts NFC trials for retail

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Absa has become the first bank in South Africa to roll out their NFC (near-field communication) trials for mobile phones. The trail will initially start with just 500 users, and should get underway in the middle of December.

Adrian Vermooten, Deputy Managing Executive of Absa Digital Banking (image: Charlie Fripp)

“Absa is the first institution in South Africa to bring Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities with an EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) card payment application to a handset,” says Arrie Rautenbach, Head of Retail Markets at Absa during the launch.

The NFC technology will allow users to load money onto a “wallet”, and when they want to purchase something at a retail store, they will simply have to tap their mobile phone on the paypoint to initiat the transaction.

“By simply tapping one’s phone in front of a contactless NFC-enabled pay point, the value of the transaction will instantly be debited from one’s bank account,” said Adrian Vermooten, Deputy Managing Executive of Absa Digital Banking.

The NFC trial uses the same readers as Absa’s “tap-and-go” technology to accept payments from smart-phone devices with the NFC. “Both technologies are exploring new ways to add convenience and value to payments, typically leveraging off the NFC technology for mobile phones to breathe new life into ‘tap, pay and be on your way’ payment capabilities,” Vermooten added.

The trial will make use of Blackberry phones, and a wide variety of models will be used. Most Blackberry phones, most notably the Blackberry 9900, comes with a wireless NFC chip built-in, making it the perfect candidate for the testing – but Absa will be testing other handsets in the future.

“As we learn from the practical, hands-on experiences of the trial, we will continue our discussions and deepen our relationships with the major players in the ‘NFC ecosystem’ to develop the commercial models, and extend the variety of payments instruments made available by the wallet,” Rautenbach concluded.

Charlie Fripp – Acting Online editor

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