Mobile payments: Citibank begins trial project

Mobile payments: Citibank begins trial project

Bangalore: The Indian arm of Citibank NA has tied up with telecom operator Vodafone Essar Ltd and mobile phone maker Nokia India Pvt. Ltd to conduct the world’s largest pilot project of a cellphone payment technology in Bangalore.

Known as near field communication, or NFC, the technology allows users to make payments by tapping their mobile phones against a reader terminal, letting consumers use their phones like electronic wallets.

Citibank tested the technology in New York three years ago, followed by another trial in Singapore earlier this year, but has not been able to find a business model around it.

The US bank is now counting on India, the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market with at least 400 million connections and a young, tech-savvy population.

“This is not a technology trial but a business model trial... We hope new service offerings such as discount coupons and information download will bring incremental revenues," Jeff Semenchuk, executive vice president, head of growth ventures, Citi Innovation, at Citibank said on Tuesday.

Several companies in India such as mChek India Payment Systems Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai-based C-SAM India Pvt. Ltd and NCR Corp. India Pvt. Ltd have experimented with NFC or plan to soon, as Mint reported earlier in June.

Citibank, Nokia, Vodafone, MasterCard Worldwide and technology provider, ViVOtech Inc., have borne the cost of subsidizing the NFC readers at merchant establishments.

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