National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the largest bank in Kuwait and Visa Inc, the world’s leading payment solution provider have partnered with Zain the leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa to launch the first Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payment trial in the GCC, using NFC enabled Nokia 6212 devices. The trial marks the first live EMV-Chip compliant Visa payWave NFC transaction in the GCC.
The six month pilot will take place from October 2009 to April 2010 using NFC software technology provided by VIVOtech. Registration will be open from October 2009 for interested NBK customers to participate in the trial. To register for the trial, customers will visit NBK website and follow the registration instructions.
Shaikha Khalid Al Bahar, NBK Deputy Chief Executive Officer said, “NBK is proud to launch the first EMV Chip compliant NFC Visa payWave mobile payment trial in the Middle East. We strive to offer the best and most comprehensive financial services to all our customers, as well as being at the forefront adopting cutting edge technology to enhance services and develop innovative products. Partnering with Visa and Zain has given us a strong platform from which to launch this innovative mobile payWave payment trial for our customers. We are pleased that our customers can benefit from the ease and convenience of paying for their everyday items with their everyday device and also enjoy dynamic retail offers through smart posters while still enjoying the same level of security that a NBK Visa card transaction provides”.
The trial will allow 500 selected NBK cardholders to download their Zain Visa credit card account details directly to their Nokia 6212 classic handset over the Zain network. Once the account has been personalized on the phone, customers can then begin to make purchases at any one of the 100 merchant partner outlets at Kuwait’s largest mall, The Avenues by simply passing a Nokia mobile phone over the Visa payWave reader at the point of sale. The trial uses the same EMV technology which protects all NBK credit and debit cards.
There are three milestone innovations occurring within this trial. The concept of ‘smart posters’ will be introduced to consumers, allowing them to collect retail offers that can be immediately redeemed for purchases at partner outlets simply by tapping their mobile phone against the poster. Secondly, customers and trial participants will be able to download a free Visa prepaid card by tapping the phone on a smart poster. Thirdly, participants with a credit card and a pre paid card, will also have the option to choose to pay from either cards from their phone at the point of sale, allowing greater on the go flexibility and convenience.
Purchases will be charged directly to the customer’s NBK Zain Visa credit card or Visa prepaid card account just as they would be with a traditional card payment. Payments initiated with a mobile phone benefit from the same security as all NBK Visa card transactions, making mobile payWave a fast, reliable and secure method of purchasing goods. VIVOtech, the market leader in contactless/NFC payment software, is providing the underlying technology, including the NFC wallet, over-the-air (OTA) card provisioning software, smart posters and the mobile coupon application.
Kamran Siddiqi General Manager for GCC, Levant, Iraq and Pakistan from Visa said, “As the shift from cash to electronic payment methods continues, Visa is extending its products and services through the mobile channel to deliver fast, efficient and safe mobile payments and related services. We are very excited to have partnered with NBK and Zain to introduce this first trial in the GCC market and are looking forward to deploying it to NBK customers in Kuwait. Recent Visa market research reveals that nearly 80% of Kuwaitis polled were very interested in the idea of having mobile payWave on their phones. We therefore believe that the NBK Visa mobile payWave will appeal to Kuwaiti consumers who are eager to adopt new innovations and technology which brings greater convenience and choice to their lives.
Khalid Al Hajery, CEO of Zain Kuwait, said: “This exclusive agreement is in line with Zain’s ongoing effort to offer the best and the latest technology to its growing customer base. Mobile phones are no longer merely devices for making and receiving calls, instead continuous investment in innovation has meant that mobile phones are increasingly becoming a platform for new technology such as proximity payments”.
Through this pilot, NBK, Visa and Zain will gather user insight across a wide range of parameters that include customer acceptance of making contactless transactions through mobile NFC, customer card preference between credit and Visa prepaid while making a payment and tracking of response to NFC-enabled smart posters and coupon redemptions.
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