Bahrain operator Batelco signed a deal with one of the country’s largest banks, Ithmaar, and electronics payments company Arab Financial Services to launch mobile payment services in the country.

In a statement, the companies said the service will be the first in the country to offer NFC-based mobile payments. Customers can upload credit from an Ithmaar bank prepaid card to their handset and use it to pay for goods and services at retailers across the country.

Batelco is one of three major mobile operators in the country with 1.14 million connections, excluding M2M, equating to an estimated market share of 34 per cent. Its mobile rivals are Viva (owned by Saudi Telecom Company) and Zain.

Batelco Bahrain CEO Muna Al Hashemi hailed the mobile payment service as a “step forward” and said it would open “exciting opportunities in the future as technology, digital banking and customers’ needs continue to evolve”.

Arab Financial Services CEO B Chandrasekhar added: “We are proud to launch the first of its kind NFC enabled mobile payments solution in Bahrain and are delighted to partner with Batelco and Ithmaar Bank for this service. We have plans to introduce more innovative products to create an enhanced customer experience.”