Austrians Dig Mobile Payments
Commuters simply hold their NFC-enabled mobile phone in front of a designated touch pad at the train station and the ticketing system generates an SMS message for the user to accept and send. The charge for the fare is added to the user's Mobilkom phone bill.
Users will still have to send an SMS to make the transaction, but in the next phase of the service, Mobilkom will cut out that step, says the operator's chief marketing officer, Hannes Ametsreiter.
Mobilkom's service is the "sexy" variety of mobile payments, according to Dave Wentker, Visa USA 's vice president of mobile innovations. In a recent Unstrung TV interview, Wentker said this kind of application will take some time to develop, because while the payment terminals are largely in place, there are not many handsets available with NFC capability. (See Dave Wentker, VP, Mobile Innovations, Visa and Visa, mFormation Team.)
Indeed, Mobilkom is launching its service with just one handset from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), the Nokia 6131 with NFC. Ametsreiter told Unstrung that Nokia had shipped only about a few thousand of these handsets to Mobilkom.
The NFC handsets can be used for purchases at 430 touch points in stations run by Vienna's public transport provider Wiener Linien; 120 touch points in Austrian national railway stations; and 400 Selecta vending machines, which sell snacks and drinks.
"This is another step for the mobile phone to become the device to manage everything in your life," says Ametsreiter, adding that he wants to extend the service to other transactions such as in supermarkets and parking garages.
Purchases are deducted from a user's Mobilkom phone bill. Mobilkom gets a transaction commission from the merchant and revenue from the sent SMS messages. Prepaid users can still use the service by signing up to Mobilkom's PayBox m-payment service for €15 ($20) per year.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung