250 Oslo residents can now leave their wallets at home when buying their morning coffee.
In a Telenor and DnB NOR trial project that just started, the mobile phone becomes a payment solution, edging your leather-bound wallet ever closer to extinction.
Each member of the 250-person test group is equipped with a Samsung mobile phone and a special SIM card. The SIM card contains information for the person’s MasterCard, issued by the Norwegian bank DnB NOR. By holding the phones up to a card reader in selected stores around the city, this group of testers can buy everything from shampoo to pizza slices using their phones alone.
“The technology behind this mobile payment solution is called Near Field Communications (NFC), and it is part of Telenor’s larger exploratory work in this area. The trial in Oslo is our first to use real customers in real life settings, and we hope that the use of the mobile phone will make their everyday purchases a little more convenient,” said Viktoria Erngard, Head of Payment & Enabling, Telenor Norway.
The test project is part of NFC City, a user driven research project which is partly financed by the research council of Norway.
Small, frequent purchases at retails stores throughout Oslo
The participating retailers are part of Norgesgruppen (a major grocery chain) and include a convenience store chain, coffee shops, a health and beauty chain and more. A total of twelve merchants located in central Oslo will participate. The idea behind the trial is for the phones to be used for the small, frequent purchases that people typically make at these stores.
Each store have a new kind of card reader installed, one that can read the information off of the SIM card on the phone. The user simply holds the phone up to the reader and his or her credit card is charged for the purchase. The SIM cards are specially designed to store information, such as bank accounts, but they have the potential to hold much more. Telenor envisions that one day the SIM could even be used as a source of admittance, possibly serving as a bus ticket, hotel room key or even a customer loyalty card.
“Contactless payment, ticketing and access are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, and Telenor is now exploring its move to the mobile platform,” said Erngard. “In our first trial with the outside world, we will be gaining crucial knowledge about the user experience, the challenges and the opportunities associated with mobile payment.”
The transition to a wallet-free future
The mobile payment trial in Oslo will extend over the course of a few months, during which Telenor will meet with the users regularly in a focus group format to evaluate their experiences. This information will help Telenor prepare for a future in which mobile payment plays a key role. In the trial Telenor will be able to test the actual payment and registration.
“Mobile payment with NFC isn’t something that’s going to happen in three months time. It will take years to make this transition, as people will need a special type of phone and the stores need the terminals that can read information from the phones,” said Erngard. “But we do believe that this is the future and that it is now time to start moving in this direction. I don’t believe that my children will be going around with a big wallet filled with credit cards. A phone is all they will need.”