Mobile and transit operators launch NFC payments system in Chongqing

China Unicom and Yucheng Transportation Card Co have jointly introduced an NFC version of Chongqing city’s Yucheng Tong card that can be used to make payments on public transport, in cinemas and at shops and restaurants.

CUSTOM PHONES: Two specially developed handsets are used in the Cqpass system
CUSTOM PHONES: Two specially developed handsets are used in the Cqpass system

An NFC-based payments system called Cqpass has been commercially launched in the Chinese city of Chongqing following extensive field testing. Cqpass lets consumers make payments for a wide range of goods and services using a specially developed mobile phone and has been jointly introduced by mobile operator China Unicom, Chongqing Yucheng Transportation Card, mobile phone manufacturer Guohong Telecom and Digital and smart card and SIM supplier Watchdata.

Cqpass uses Watchdata’s SIMpass NFC technology and, for the first time, specially developed mobile phones. Two phone models are available, the Changhong DG28 (priced at RMB759, about US$112) and the Changhong F4 (priced at RMB857, about US$126).

SIMpass comes in two versions. In the first it is built into a handset as a secure element and in the second it is retro-fitted to existing handsets (the company says it is compatible with 80% of handsets). Here, the antenna is connected to the SIMpass module and the SIMpass module itself is inserted as normal into the SIM slot on the phone. Attached to the SIM, though, is the antenna and the user simply removes the back cover of the phone and then places the antenna between the battery and the back cover where it can be kept securely.

SIMpass technology is already in use in a subway ticketing application in Guangzhou City in the province of Guangdong as well as in other Chinese systems in Xiamen, Dalian, Suzhou and Hunan province. SIMpass is also used in Thailand and the video below, produced for Thai operator True Move, explains how SIMpass works and how it can be used:

TRUE MOVIE: True Move's film shows the SIM and antenna arrangement from 0:36

To begin with, Cqpass is acting as an almost exact functional alternative to Chongqing’s existing Yucheng Tong Card, of which 700,000 are currently in circulation. This allows customers to pay for bus rides, cable car rides, hotels, leisure activities and restaurant meals. Cqpass additionally offers transaction records and can display the card number.

During 2009 stage two of the project will see the addition of over-the-air top-up functionality that will allow Cqpass customers to automatically transfer funds from their bank account to Cqpass so that, ultimately, one device will act as a mobile phone, bank card, transportation card and an enterprise management card.

“The Cqpass is like a baby that has been nurtured very well. It has improved tremendously in the last three years to become what it is now today. I hope it will better serve the local people of Chongqing and bring them an eco-friendly, fashionable and convenient lifestyle,” says China Unicom’s Rong Yao.

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