NZ brimming with mobile wallets

EFTPOS looks old hat as New Zealand carriers take a major step towards making payments with mobile phones.

EFTPOS looks old hat as New Zealand carriers take a major step towards making payments with mobile phones.

Trials were announced this week involving public transport networks and selected retailers in Auckland, with Telecom NZ, and Wellington, with 2 Degrees.

They follow earlier trials from Vodafone, which were announced six months ago with the Bank of New Zealand.

There are a few hurdles to overcome before our mobiles can become mobile wallets, however. There will be the usual concerns about security, although it seems as though mobile wallets will be safe. On top of that, however, few phones use the near-field communications (NFC) technology that the system needs, few retailers have the appropriate terminals and there is no trusted service manager to operate the system.

Technology has held mobile wallets back in the past. In Australia, the National Australia Bank (NAB) tested the technology five long years ago, and found that it wasn't quite ready. ANZ also stopped its efforts after a trial, saying that the kit it was using didn't meet its needs.

Yet, in New Zealand, standards are being developed to make the systems possible.

Meanwhile, other Australian banks are working on it; the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) revealed its first efforts on an NFC-based payment product for mobile phones last year, unleashing the Kaching app and case for the popular iPhone, while Westpac is investigating payments via a sticker on the phone and NAB is still holding out for an NFC product via another method.

In the US, Google has its Google Wallet initiative, and Apple has filed for a patent for a mobile wallet.

It seems that as more NFC phones are being manufactured, the time has finally come for the long-term dream of the mobile wallet to take off. Indeed, there are claims that mobile wallets could replace cash and cards by 2020.


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