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Citibank launches next-gen mobile payments in India

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If you are a credit card holder in Bangalore, and use a mobile phone service on a Nokia 6212, you need not carry that Citi credit card anymore. Your mobile phone will double as a credit card as well. Using near-field communications (NFC) technology, Citibank has launched a next-generation, contact-less, credit card payment mechanism.

Citi today launched Citi Tap and Pay, on a pilot basis in Bangalore and will run for six months.

The technology will allow customers to tap their mobile phone at a compatible reader at the point of sale to pay for purchases, eliminating the need for the traditional swiping of credit cards and enhancing the security of credit card transactions by eliminating the need to hand out the card to a merchant.

Near-field Communications is a short-range wireless connectivity technology standard designed for communication between electronic devices. NFC is enabled by bringing two NFC compatible devices within a few centimeters of one another and which enable payments in this scenario. Applications of include data transfers including calendar synchronization or electronic business cards and access to online digital content.

Jeff Semenchuk, head of growth ventures team — Citi Innovation, said at a press conference, here today that Citi has tied up with Nokia, Vodafone, MasterCard, ViVOtech as partners to establish this ecosystem in Bangalore.

Nokia will support the service with its NFC-enabled phone, which is embedded with an NFC chip. MasterCard will offer its MasterCard PayPass contactless payment and security infrastructure. ViVOtech is providing the underlying technology, including the NFC wallet, the Over-the-Air (OTA) card provisioning software.

N Rajashekaran, country business manager, global consumer group, Citi India said the bank has 2.5 million card holders in India, of which 400,000 are in Bangalore. Already 20,000 card holders in Bangalore have a Nokia 6212 mobile phone with Vodafone connection and are eligible to use the new payment system. The bank has tied up with 500 merchant establishments in the city to try out the new pilot project, he said.

The Citibank credit card holders can purchase Nokia N 6212 classic phone at designated Nokia stores, pre-loaded with the Citi Tap and Pay application enabled with MasterCard’s PayPass contactless payment technology. They will then be able to securely execute an over-the-air download of their Citibank MasterCard Credit card into their mobile phone. Once personalized, their credit card on the phone will be ready.

Based on the success of the pilot project, Citi aims to roll out this service across other cities in the world, Vijay S Ramachandran, chief marketing officer, South Asia, Citibank, said. The new payment facility can also be enabled for their Suvidha debit card holders as well, he said.

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