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Far EasTone ready for NFC-based mobile payment

2013/06/13 15:30:48

Taipei, June 13 (CNA) Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., Taiwan's third-largest telecom operator, said Thursday it is set to launch a trial project for mobile payments based on near-field communication (NFC) technology in the second half of 2013.

Phase one of the project will start in the third quarter, in cooperation with Far Eastern International Bank and MasterCard Inc., the world's second-largest credit and debit card network, said Far EasTone President Yvonne Li.

The second phase of the project is expected to kick off in the fourth quarter by including more local banks and expanding its credit card partnership to Visa Inc.'s network, Li told CNA on the sidelines of Far EasTone's general meeting of shareholders.

The trial project will initially target smaller mobile payments of under NT$3,000 (US$100.5) due to the requirements of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), Taiwan's top financial watchdog, she noted.

"We will begin with our group's banks and department stores, while seeking external partners such as fast food chain stores," said Li, adding that more details will be announced at a press conference to be held by the end of this month.

Far Eastern International Bank, a unit of the Far Eastern Group, was approved by the FSC June 11 to run mobile payment business through over-the-air downloads that allow users to simply download virtual credit cards to their NFC-enabled smartphones.

The cooperation with Far Eastern International Bank will make Far EasTone the second carrier in Taiwan to enter the NFC mobile payment market following a similar move by Chunghwa Telecom Co., the country's largest mobile provider.

Chunghwa Telecom said May 29 that it had teamed up with MasterCard and four local banks to launch a trial plan for new mobile payment services, allowing its subscribers to use NFC-enabled virtual credit cards to pay bills and make purchases at select local stores, as well as at nearly 700,000 contracted stores in 51 countries.

The operator said commercial operations of its NFC-enabled mobile credit card service are expected to begin by the end of this year, once it obtains approval for its commercial plan.

According to research firm Gartner Inc., worldwide mobile payment transaction value will reach US$235.4 billion in 2013, a 44 percent increase from the US$163.1 billion in 2012.

The number of mobile payment users worldwide will reach 245.2 million in 2013, up from 200.8 million in 2012, Gartner said in a report released Thursday.

The U.S.-based researcher forecast that NFC will account for only about 2 percent of the total transaction value in 2013 and 5 percent in 2017, although growth is expected to increase from 2016, when the penetration of NFC mobile phones and contactless readers increases.

(By Jeffrey Wu)