The United Arab Emirates is experiencing a delay in its commercial launch of NFC mobile payment due to a lack of phones, readers and SIM cards, according to Emirates Business 24/7.
The shortage has put on hold two major deployments – one involving Dubai First Bank and Telecom service provider Du; the other involving etisalat, Emirates NBD, Gemalto and Visa.
According to Rashed Majed Al Abbar, Director, etisalat Mobile Commerce, “Telecom operators globally and regionally are waiting for mobile phone manufacturers to launch commercial handsets. There are only test models in the market. These companies were supposed to launch by the end of third quarter last year. However, they have canceled their plans in the roadmap for this year. There are no specific plans on the NFC or any replacement.”
Mitchel Roda, Senior Manager, Marketing Commercial, Du, adds: “Handset manufacturers are aware of the problem but they don’t seem to be anxious to launch NFC phones. There are all mixed message from them as few of them have delayed the launch.”
According to EB 24/7, there are currently180 pilot NFC mobile payment projects around the globe, yet only two of these (one in China and the other in Malaysia) have seen commercial deployment.
“Telecom operators are at a standstill as pilot projects are not able to kick off into commercial deployments. This has also opened the market for interim solutions. There are SIM-based solutions hitting the market, whereby the NFC reader is attached like an SD card. This converts a regular mobile phone into an NFC handset,” said Al Abbar.
However, UAE is also experiencing a shortage of these NFC SIM cards, as well as Paypass and Paywave readers.
Al Abbar explains: “There is a lack of NFC-enabled pay readers and another big challenge is sharing the cost. Though it is a minor cost to switch to NFC-enabled pay reader, it is not clear who will bear the cost?”
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