Russian operator MegaFon launched a contactless payment card linked to a subscriber’s mobile phone balance, rather than a bank account.
The card, which enables subscribers to pay where MasterCard is accepted, is available starting today in the operator’s stores in Moscow, St Petersburg and other leading cities. It will be available nationwide from 1 October.
The operator is wooing potential users with a number of benefits, including an 8 per cent interest rate paid monthly on the balance held in their mobile accounts. In addition, users will be able to get up to 10 per cent of the value of a transaction back from select retail partners.
Users can also send money to other MegaFon subscribers, both within Russia and internationally, commission-free.
There is no service fee for the new bank card and it is issued by the country’s Round Bank and complies with all bank card security requirements, said MegaFon.
However, users might have to pay a small fee to receive a MegaFon card. They must apply at one of the operator’s stores and need a passport to prove their identity. Cards are free for those on the All inclusive tariffs. For others, the card costs from RUB99 ($1.5). The user then calls 5555 to activate the card. They must also download an app available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone on which they can track transactions, make transfers and pay for goods and services.
There is no indication that the app and user’s smartphone can be used to make NFC-based payments at points of sale where MasterCard is accepted. The only mention is of the plastic contactless card.