Digicel, VeriFone launch ‘mobile wallet’ in Tonga
Major Pacific Island region mobile services provided Digicel this week has launched an innovative addition to its Digicel Mobile Money service offering which enables Tongans to pay for goods and services through any mobile phone using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.<!--more--> The payment service does not require the user to have a bank account or credit card.
NFC is a set of communications technology standards for smart phones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimetres.
According to a 2011 report from Wireless Intelligence, a global database of mobile market information, some 60% of the Tongan population does not have bank accounts. Also both credit card and smart phone penetration continues to be low in most of the country.
Digicel’s new service is accessible from any type of mobile phone and its unique contactless point of sale (POS) payments service is fully integrated with a mobile wallet and is not card-backed.
Available initially with 50 merchants in the capital of Nuku’alofa, plans are in place to extend the service across the island. The new service is a result of a partnership between Digicel and Verifone mWallet and sees the first use NFC technology with Mobile Wallet services in the region.
In this case, Digicel and Verifone are deploying an NFC-enabled merchant payments solution which uses NFC tags linked to mobile numbers and to contactless POS devices supplied by Verifone. Rather than just being limited to smart phone users, any mobile phone subscriber can use the service.
This new service follows the introduction of international money transfers direct to Mobile Wallets by Digicel late last year, where, as reported in Pacific Periscope, customers in New Zealand can instantly send money online to subscribers in the Pacific for much lower costs than using the services of the traditional operators like Western Union and banks.
The next generation payments solution is the result of a partnership between Digicel, Verifone mWallet, and New Zealand-based currency exchange company, KlickEx. Digicel Mobile Money is supported by UNDP, PFIP and AusAid.