By Vineetha Menon www.itp.net
SINGAPORE: Paying for a ride on the Dubai Metro could take on a whole new dimension with a Singapore-based firm revealing they are in talks with UAE telco Du to essentially have Nol cards in subscribers’ mobile phones.
Chua Thian Yee, CEO of Cassis International, told itp.net that the firm is offering Du a platform that supports different applications for Near Field Communication (NFC) – a new short-range wireless connectivity technology. “It’s like a new kind of iPhone platform but for services,” Yee explained.
With it, passengers will be able to swipe their phone at ticketing terminals to gain entry to a Dubai Metro train.
“Their vision is to have Nol cards put into Du phones, which will then behave like the pass card and you can even top it up, check the balance…,” added Yee.
At present, only a few mobile phones come with NFC built-in but Yee says the technology will take off “like how Bluetooth is today”, with more NFC models from several major players like Nokia, Samsung and Motorola expected to launch worldwide by the end of the year.
In the United Arab Emirates, both Du and Etisalat have already tested the waters for NFC technology adoption.
Du last year launched an NFC payments pilot programme with Dubai First, which involved select Dubai First Platinum MasterCard customers receiving NFC-enabled handsets that were used to store credit card details. With it, customers could make payments with their phone at MasterCard PayPass terminals in the UAE. Considered the first NFC mobile payment pilot in the Middle East, the trial was scheduled to conclude by the second quarter of 2010.
And, at GITEX Technology Week in 2009, Etisalat also announced it was adopting NFC by partnering with Emirates NBD to allow Visa cardholders to buy products and services using their phones. The director for m-commerce services at Etisalat, Rashed al Abbar, told The National daily at the time that their pilot study would be completed by the end of the first quarter, with the system then deploying commercially to tie in with the launch of new NFC-enabled mobile phones.
Yee revealed he is currently engaged in exploratory talks with both Du and Etisalat, but believes that Du just might take the leap first in connection with the Roads and Transport Authority for the Dubai Metro. He is scheduled to meet with Du representatives soon, which he says is a sign of their “strong interest”.
“Du is quite an advanced telco and they have a strategic approach that is shaped by customers. They are always looking for the next step to stay ahead, so they look for new technology to attract new customers,” Yee stated.