Belgacom launches PingPing, tests NFC stickers

The Belgian telecoms operator has launched a series of mobile payment initiatives under the new PingPing banner and has partnered with Accor Services, Coca-Cola and supermarket chain Delhaize to test three different applications for NFC tag payments.

PAYMENTS BRAND: Ping.Ping will "indicate where customers can make mobile payments", says Belgacom
PAYMENTS BRAND: Ping.Ping will 'indicate where customers can make mobile payments', says Belgacom

Belgacom has announced a major move into the mobile payments business and is to carry out NFC tag tests with a number of high profile partners, including Accor Services, Coca-Cola and supermarket chain Delhaize, all under a new mobile payments brand name ‘PingPing‘.

The PingPing brand and its logo will, says Belgacom, “indicate where customers can make mobile payments, with all its advantages. Fast, user-friendly, interactive, requiring no small change etc, the system can be accessed by all mobile phone users, regardless of their operator.”

“Partnership and applications are conceivable in all business sectors,” says the company.

The new trials with Accor, Delhaize and Coca-Cola are designed to explore a range of potential use cases for PingPing.

The Accor Services pilot will use its Ticket Restaurant meal voucher service. For the trial, 500 Belgacom employees and 500 employees of neighbouring companies will be issued with PingPing tags that they attach to the back of their phones. Companies will be able to credit employees’ PingPing accounts with electronic meal vouchers which their staff can then spend at the Belgacom canteen and also at other restaurants and shops that accept contactless payments.

Supermarket chain Delhaize will add readers to the checkouts at one of its city stores, located near Belgacom’s offices. Trial participants will be able to pay for their shopping using their PingPing account or with electronic Ticket Restaurant vouchers.

Finally, Coca-Cola will add PingPing acceptance to its drinks dispensing machines.

The announcement of the new PingPing brand and the NFC tests follows on from Belgacom’s acquisition last month of a 40% stake in Tunz, a mobile payments specialist which also holds a European e-money license. Tunz offers an open payment platform that supports contactless and NFC payments, national and international person-to-person payments, internet payments, loyalty, couponing and mobile ticketing.

“Belgacom Group considers mobile payments to be an important field in the development of innovative services,” says the company. “Together with Tunz and other partners, Belgacom aims to achieve a rapid breakthrough in mobile micro-payments in other fields.”

Belgacom already has some significant experience in the mobile payments arena. In cooperation with De Lijn, the Flemish public transport company, Belgacom’s mobile subsidiary Proximus has offered an SMS ticketing service in Antwerp and Ghent since 2007. Today, 1,000 purchases are made every day. And, in July 2008, Belgacom acquired SMS parking ticket payments provider Mobile-for. Two million tickets are expected to be sold this year.

HOW IT WORKS: Ping.Ping in action at a small merchant. Click to enlarge.
HOW IT WORKS: Ping.Ping in action at a small merchant. Click to enlarge.

The company also has an involvement in the mobile money transfer market via Belgacom International Carrier Services (Belgacom ICS) which is one of the partners in the GSM Association’s Mobile Money Transfer programme. Belgacom ICS and eServGlobal have recently been testing out their joint HomeSend transfer service using transfers between Belgium and North Africa and are soon to extend testing to other parts of the world.

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