SK Telecom backs BLE for payment service - Mobile World Live

SK Telecom backs BLE for payment service

29 MAR 2016
Mobile Payment

South Korea’s SK Telecom said an innovative mobile payment service attracted 100,000 users in two weeks since launch.

T Pay, which unusually is based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, is a hands-free payment service that also uses a barcode feature for additional security.

The service does not make use of NFC, the most widely used technology for contactless payments via smartphones including by local rival Samsung Pay.

SK Telecom argues its service “sets itself from other mobile payment apps/services by allowing users to make purchases without ever touching their phones.”

In addition, payments are added to a user’s mobile bill rather than via credit and debit cards, thus positioning SK Telecom as a competitor rather than partner to the financial services industry.

The service launched 15 March.

Pay by Bluetooth
As SKT notes, BLE has been used in m-commerce to date for detecting user location and sending marketing/coupons one-way through Bluetooth beacons in retail locations.

T Pay enables two-way communications between a BLE-based point-of-sale beacon and a user’s smartphone to enable hands-free payment.

The service is currently available as an Android app with iOS to follow in the first half of 2016.

Once users download the app, they can purchase items by saying they want to pay with T Pay at the point of sale. The cashier identifies the user through a nickname or personal information plus their mobile number that appears on the point-of-sale (PoS) screen. The store’s PoS and smartphone exchange data via BLE. The user completes the transaction by entering their registered password on a PoS terminal.

In addition, T Pay also has a barcode payment feature which generates one-time barcodes every three minutes as an additional layer of security. SK Telecom does not say so but presumably the barcodes are displayed on the user’s smartphone screen and then scanned by the cashier. It is unclear if this process is enacted for every transaction.

T Pay is integrated with the company’s T Membership customer membership programme which offers discounts at partner stores including restaurants, bakeries and convenient stores. Users can pay for goods at about 40 per cent of T Membership offline stores with a goal to reach 90 per cent by Q3 2016.

All purchases made via T Pay are added to a user’s mobile phone bill. Those aged 19 or over can purchase up to KRW 500,000 ($428) per mobile number each billing month.

T Pay does not require users to enter credit card or bank account information, since payments are added to their mobile bill. This means “customers do not have to worry about leakage of their financial information,” the operator added.

Of the 100,000-plus users who have signed up, 65 per cent are in their 20s and 30s, the operator revealed.


Richard Handford

Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including...

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