Singapore on the cusp of becoming an NFC-enabled nation; thousands of merchants involved
August 3, 2012 by Terence LEE
Previously, we’ve written that 2012 could be a big year for Near-field Communication Technology. Today, Singapore has taken a big step towards making it happen.
The consortium, which consists of Citibank, DBS, EZ-Link, and all three mobile operators in Singapore — M1, SingTel, and StarHub, is supported by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
If you’re hazy on what NFC is, it is essentially a technology that, among other uses, turns smartphones into mobile wallets. It essentially eliminates the need to bring out physical wallets and credit cards.
The technology, however, is complex and has many moving parts, hence the need to set up a consortium to develop the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem. About US$40M in total will be pumped in by the consortium and IDA to develop the infrastructure. Gemalto itself is responsible for developing a secure, unified, and comprehensive third-party infrastructure for NFC services.
Gemalto has said that three credit, pre-paid, and stored value NFC payment services will be announced in the coming weeks by respective partners.
So how might this NFC service take shape? From what the consortium has disclosed so far, consumers with NFC-enabled phones will be able to download a mobile wallet app that aggregates various mobile payment services from different banks and payment providers.
When the service launches, consumers can then use their phones to make payments at over 30,000 retail points, including convenience stores, fast food outlets, retailers, and taxis. If set up properly, all they need to do is tap and go.
In the future, the app will also aggregate a variety of merchant loyalty cards and discount coupons, providing an interesting challenge for existing mobile loyalty card apps in Singapore like Perx and Squiryl.
Gemalto has also promised that the NFC service will be secure as the infrastructure, SIM cards, and handsets have received certifications from MasterCard and Visa, as well as industry standards bodies like GlobalPlatform and EMVCo.
The company has added that the platform is “all-inclusive”, meaning future players can easily plug in and take advantage of the infrastructure to offer their own NFC services. Potential future applications could include ticketing at concerts and access keys to private offices or residences.
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE