UK to get five ‘exclusively NFC payment-based towns’ by end 2011

The UK’s mobile network operators are working on plans to establish five exclusively NFC payment-based towns, where all card accepting merchants would be equipped with contactless point of sale terminals, Charlotte Blanchard, director of products and services at mobile network operator 3, has told IT PRO.

In the last month, Orange has said it will begin commercial NFC services in the UK in conjunction with Barclaycard during the second quarter of 2011 and O2 UK has commmitted to beginning services in the second half of this year.

“NFC is starting to get a lot of traction,” Blanchard told IT PRO at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week:

“Operators are all behind it [and] we are starting to see manufacturers behind it as well. It feels like all the pieces are coming together.”

Blanchard didn’t confirm any partnerships comparable to the likes of Orange and BarclayCard. However, she did reveal there were plans to trial five exclusively NFC payment-based towns in the UK by the end of the year, despite it being a “long slog” to get local services in alignment.

France already has Nice running on NFC payments and Blanchard planned to visit the city to get some insight into how it worked for its residents.

The key though was collaboration between operators across the UK.

“The idea is for [operators] to sign into the same solution and approach,” she added. “Everyone recognises you don’t want different solutions.”

Next: Visit the NFCW Expo to find new suppliers and solutions