Taipei, May 29 (CNA) MasterCard Inc., the world's second-largest credit and debit card network, on Wednesday launched mobile services in Taiwan, in cooperation with a local telecommunications carrier and banks, to offer an easier payment system.
The service allows Chunghwa Telecom Co.'s mobile subscribers to simply download virtual credit cards, issued by four banks, to a special SIM card on smartphones equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology, according to the company.
Taiwanese consumers will be able to use the 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, said Julie Yang, general manager of MasterCard in Taiwan.
"With over-the-air downloads, consumers can use their phones as a payment tool and no longer need to bring heavy wallets," Yang said at the launch of the service.
Cathay United Bank has been approved by Taiwan's banking regulator, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FCC), to launch a trial plan for the service, while Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Taishin International Bank and E. Sun Commercial Bank have applied for approval.
Lin Kuo-feng, president of Chunghwa's mobile business group, said commercial operations of the NFC-enabled mobile credit card service is expected to begin by the end of this year, once it obtains approval of its commercial plan.
Chunghwa Telecom plans to sell more NFC-ready smartphones, including mid- to high-end models, Lin said, adding that some entry-level phones are likely to feature the NFC technology in the next year or two.
According to the research firm Gartner Inc., the global mobile transaction volume and value will grow by an average of 42 percent per year between 2011 and 2016, reaching a market worth US$617 billion with 448 million users by 2016.
Technology providers will have to cater to a local market that will be using different access technologies, business models and partners, and under different regulatory conditions, Gartner said.
(By Jeffrey Wu)