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Telecom Italia announces large scale SIM-based mobile commerce project

From next year, Telecom Italia subscribers will be able to use a new generation of SIM card to purchase train and bus tickets, parking, theatre seats, concert tickets and hotel rooms from their mobile phone. For the launch of the service, the mobile operator has partnered with Movincom, an Italian consortium of companies and service providers working to promote mobile retailing.

Exactly how the new service works is not completely clear — but we will be publishing more details as soon as we have been able to get more information from Telecom Italia.

Here’s how the official announcement explains things:

Starting in 2010, Telecom Italia will be building in an ad hoc application into its new Sim cards. Using this application, directly from their mobile phones, customers will be able to buy tickets for public transport and trains, pay for parking, purchase ski passes, buy tickets for a night out at the theatre or other events, and book hotel rooms.

Payment for these services will make use of methods offered by banks who sign up to the venture.

Using a SAT (SIM Application Toolkit) technology solution developed by Telecom Italia, this mobile commerce solution ensures high standards of security and authenticates the phone number from which each transaction originates. Specific menus integrated directly into the Sim card will guide customers through the process and make it quick and easy to make purchases. Orders placed for goods or services are dispatched by a text message generated automatically by the application. The text message features the purchaser’s cellphone number but no sensitive data about the selected method of payment.

The configuration-free service will be available on all mobile phones. It will be possible to update the service at any time, as and when new goods and services are added.

The Movincom Consortium currently has more than 650 operational services on board, a figure that is destined to rise to over 1,500 services in seven different market sectors. The consortium currently has the following members: Trenitalia, GTT (Turin), CTM Cagliari, 5T (Turin), Ataf (Florence), ATV (Verona), AMT Genova, TEP Parma, Ne-t (Gruppo APS Padua), Mobilità e Parcheggi (L’Aquila), Firenze Parcheggi, Telepark, Teleparking, CLUB Italia, AIPARK, ANAV, SIB – Società Impianti Bormio, Madonna di Campiglio, Monterosa ski, Funivie San Bernardo — La Thuile, Pila, Cervinia, Funivie Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Vittoria Assicurazioni, Coris Broker — 24h Assistance, Fratelli Carli, Charta-Vivaticket, (the Mondadori Group’s online bookshop), SMS Hotels and Gruppo Prima. Many more companies are in the process of signing up.

“After becoming an indispensable personal communications tool,” says Oscar Cicchetti, Manager of Telecom Italia’s Domestic Market Operations, “the mobile phone is transitioning into a personal gateway to the internet, content and services, ranging from information to entertainment and professional applications. Leveraging the potential of the latest SIM cards and terminals, mobile phones are poised to become a powerful and secure transactions and identity management tool too. Today’s agreement paves the way for this by offering a broad range of services and a secure, straightforward and intuitive method for making purchases.”

“We know that security and a user-friendly purchase experience are vital to the development of mobile commerce via mobile phones. This agreement with Telecom Italia is a major step in that direction,” says Enrico Sponza, Deputy Chairman of the Movincom Consortium. “Banks will have access to an integrated set of operational processes and be able to fast track their entry into the mobile payment business.”

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