Vodafone to launch NFC payment service in Europe

Operator group Vodafone has announced an NFC mobile payment service in Spain. The group plans to launch the service at the end of November, with launches in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK to follow.

The Vodafone SmartPass service, which has been developed in partnership with payment provider Visa, allows customers with an NFC-enabled mobile phone to make contactless payments at the point of sale (POS) from their Vodafone SmartPass credit balance.

The Vodafone Wallet app can also hold travel cards, library or gym membership cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and vouchers. In addition, customers that do not have NFC enabled phones can also benefit from the service, using NFC tags that can be attached to the phone. Each Vodafone SmartPass user will also receive a supplementary physical Visa card for use at the POS. In addition to making payments, users can also send money to other registered Vodafone SmartPass users and load credit balances within the app.

“After months of intensive preparations we are looking forward to going live in Spain,” said Dr Christian Wirtz, Vodafone’s group director for mCommerce. “We are convinced that contactless payments using smartphones will gain pace from 2014, and that our customers will value, in particular, the added value that our mobile services offer.”

The operator teamed up with SIM card solutions provider Gemalto to provide and operate the Trusted Service Management (TSM) platform for its NFC solutions globally.

The move towards using NFC technology to make payments appears to be gaining pace among mobile operators in Europe. Earlier this month, French operator group Orange formed a strategic partnership with Visa to accelerate awareness and everyday usage of contactless payment technology in France, and also launched a mobile prepayment solution called Orange Cash in the country.

Norwegian carrier Telenor also teamed up with DNB, the country’s largest bank, and identity management specialist Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) to introduce Norway’s first commercial NFC project.

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