Auckland NFC transport trial enters next phase

Telecom, Westpac and Auckland Transport to begin NFC trials on trains and ferries

Telecom, Westpac, and Auckland Transport have today announced the next phase of their near field communication (NFC) mobile wallet trial on Auckland's public transport system. 

Proof of concept NFC-ticketing machines and turnstiles were shown at a press conference held at technology partner Thale's lab in Auckland.

An NFC-capable phone (in this case the Samsung Galaxy S III) was used to pay for fares on a mock train platform. More than 30 trial participants in Auckland will use Samsung Galaxy S III phones to pay for journeys on trains and ferries.

There was no news about the availability on Auckland buses, which according to Auckland Transport has the highest public transport patronage in Auckland with almost 55 million trips expected this year. 

Telecom says in future the system will be available as an alternative point-of-sale payment method akin to EFTPOS, or contactless credit cards. In addition the telco expects it to be used as a coupon and rewards system.

The trial is a collaboration between Auckland Transport, Westpac Bank, Telecom, Gemalto, Thales, and Paymark. According to the joint venture, its mobile wallet technology will be available towards the end of 2013.

TSM and Snapper

Telecom, Westpac, and AT's mobile wallet trial is similar to Touch2Pay, which Snapper and 2degrees deployed in Wellington in May, and was officially launched in Auckland last week.

Snapper CEO Miki Szikszai has told Computerworld that the Infratil-owned company has approached other carriers to set up a similar mobile payment venture with 2degrees' competitors.

At the press conference Ed Hyde, general manager of Telecom's mobile product portfolio, would not confirm that, but says Snapper may be involved in Telecom's wider national mobile wallet ecosystem.

"We want to build a large ecosystem with lots of different players. New Zealand's too small to be exclusive," says Hyde.

"What we're trying to do right now is have the core players keep this thing moving. As the technology solution becomes closer to market, we'll build out that ecosystem." 

In April, Telecom, Vodafone, 2degrees and Paymark announced its plan to bring onboard a trusted security manager (TSM) to handle the secure communications for NFC payments.

Hyde says the TSM search is now at the technical details phase. One of the companies involved in the mobile wallet trial is AB Note, which is also Snapper's TSM for its Touch2Pay system. 

Hyde says AB Note's relationships with New Zealand banks makes it a strong contender.

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