New Zealand trials mobile NFC payments for catching the bus

Whilst NFC is making its way slowly into almost every phone that's being released at the moment, we're yet to see it widely implemented to a point where it's actually useful. New Zealand, however, is jumping on the bandwagon early, announcing that they are trialling a mobile wallet based solution that will allow commuters to use their NFC-equipped phone to pay for the bus.

The trial is a collaboration between Auckland Transport, Telecom NZ and Westpac (a major bank), and the group are building a custom solution for the NFC trial (instead of using something like Google Wallet) that will be used as a standard for future NFC-based solutions in the country. The bus company already has a NFC card based system that has been used in other places in the world, such as the Oyster tap and go system in London. Despite this, it wasn't clear if mobile phones were compatible with the existing technology until now.

The trial only includes 30 staff from the participating companies, but is aimed to gain information to help the group build their payment solution. There's no word about what platform the solution will be built on, be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, nor about whether or not consumers should expect to see anything in the near future.

What's interesting about the trial is the carriers are building the payment solution, which means they will have a lot of control over the application and where it can be used. This could cause fragmentation in the NFC space if a competing carrier also built an application. It's great to hear that they're pushing ahead with adopting the technology so swiftly though; in a few years we might be able to rid ourselves of wallets altogether.

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