Austrian mobile operator A1 has launched a pilot scheme that will enable mobile subscribers to make small payments via NFC-enabled handset. The operator has developed its own mobile payment solution for the trial with its subsidary Paybox Bank. Participants can make payments of up to EUR25 in selected branches of either retailer using an NFC-enabled smartphone or a conventional handset with a NFC sticker attached. The trial runs until Summer 2012.
The service is based on a solution developed by A1 and its partner Paybox Bank which is also owned by parent Telekom Austria. The Austrian operator is one of the few mobile operators to hold a banking licence. Paybox Bank has already launched its own financial and mobile payment services. The mobile operator and bank's new solution is called Paybox NFC. Telekom Austria has a record of NFC innovation: The operator claims to have been the first in the world to launch NFC in 2007.
A1 is working with 500 subscribers across two outlets for the trial: McDonald's and Merkur, a local supermarket. Payments can be made at 19 point-of-sale terminals in four McDonald’s restaurants and 38 point-of-sale terminals in five Merkur outlets. The pilot will work with any Austrian bank account. A1 currently offers five NFC-enabled smartphones: HTC One X, Sony Xperia S, BlackBerry Curve 9360 and 9380 and BlackBerry Bold 9900. Alexander Sperl, CCO at A1, said current estimates put the end-2012 total of NFC-enabled smartphones in Austria at 200,000.
The operator says once the pilot is complete then the new service will expand to additional points of sale, business partners and payment services without confirming when a commercial launch for NFC is planned.