National Bank, Zain and Visa to launch NFC trial in Kuwait

Five hundred National Bank of Kuwait customers will take part in a six month pilot at the country’s largest shopping mall.

MIDDLE EAST: Zain, NBK and Visa are running a payments trial in Kuwait
MIDDLE EAST: Zain, NBK and Visa are running a payments trial in Kuwait

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the largest bank in Kuwait, and Visa have partnered with telecommunications operator Zain to launch the first EMV compliant near field communications trial in the GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) region.

The pilot will begin later this month and continue until April 2010. NBK customers wishing to take part in the trial can register online on NBK’s website.

Vivotech has been picked to supply the technology used in the pilot, including the NFC wallet, over-the-air (OTA) card provisioning software, smart posters and a mobile coupon application.

The 500 NBK cardholders selected for the trial will be able to download their Zain Visa credit card account details directly to a Nokia 6212 classic handset over the Zain network. Once the account has been personalised on the phone, customers will then be able to make purchases at any of the 100 merchant partner outlets at Kuwait’s largest mall, The Avenues.

Smart posters in the mall will allow the trial participants to collect retail offers that can be immediately redeemed for purchases at partner outlets. They will also be able to download a free Visa prepaid card, simply by tapping the phone on a smart poster.

Purchases will be charged directly to the customer’s NBK Zain Visa credit card or to their downloaded Visa prepaid card account.

“NBK is proud to launch the first EMV chip compliant NFC Visa payWave mobile payment trial in the Middle East,” says Shaikha Khalid Al Bahar, NBK’s deputy chief executive officer. “We strive to offer the best and most comprehensive financial services to all our customers, as well as being at the forefront adopting cutting-edge technology to enhance services and develop innovative products.”

“Partnering with Visa and Zain has given us a strong platform from which to launch this innovative mobile payWave payment trial for our customers,” she adds. “We are pleased that our customers can benefit from the ease and convenience of paying for their everyday items with their everyday device and also enjoy dynamic retail offers through smart posters while still enjoying the same level of security that an NBK Visa card transaction provides.”

“Recent Visa market research reveals that nearly 80% of Kuwaitis polled were very interested in the idea of having mobile payWave on their phones,” adds Kamran Siddiqi, Visa’s general manager for GCC, Levant, Iraq and Pakistan. “We therefore believe that the NBK Visa mobile payWave will appeal to Kuwaiti consumers who are eager to adopt new innovations and technology which brings greater convenience and choice to their lives.”

“This exclusive agreement is in line with Zain’s ongoing effort to offer the best and the latest technology to its growing customer base,” explains Khalid Al Hajery, CEO of Zain Kuwait. “Mobile phones are no longer merely devices for making and receiving calls; instead continuous investment in innovation has meant that mobile phones are increasingly becoming a platform for new technology such as proximity payments.”

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