Optus has just released details on a new partnership with Visa and the Heritage bank that will introduce a contactless payment system utilising NFC and the Visa payWave technology to allow customers to use their Smart Phones as a payment system. The product called m-wallet is currently in internal trials right now with an intention to launch the system commercially next year.

As we’ve seen from other providers such as Vodafone and Westpac the Optus contactless payment system will use an NFC enabled SIM card instead of the secure element installed on most mobile phones which from the Commonwealth Banks comments it appears that Google is reluctant to allow access to. Optus will provide the NFC enabled SIM card which will carry all the Debit Card information as well as an application that will load on their phones.

Austin R. Bryan, VP of Digital Communities and Ecosystems, SingTel and Optus advised that the NFC enabled SIM cards wil be protected by the same EMV chip technology found in credit cards and debit cards but the option to add a password protected pin to the application will also be available.

Visa also sees the value in contactless payments and Australia’s quick adoption rate of contactless payments with Vipin Kalra, Visa’s Australia Country Manager advising “Australia is fast becoming the world leader when it comes to contactless payments. Mobile NFC payments are shaping up to be one of the key technology trends for 2013 and Visa is excited to be collaborating with Optus to bring this reality closer for Australian consumers.”

It’s a real shame that Google has not brought their Google Wallet product to Australia despite Visa seeing Australians being early adopters of the technology, with Google Wallet seemingly not finding traction with the US, perhaps Google should look at rolling it out to more markets but in the end it is good to see other vendors stepping up to the plate to provide alternative contactless payment solutions. Having used Google Wallet I personally cannot wait for contactless payments via NFC on your phone becomes an everyday occurence.

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  • No_Underscore

    I hadn’t heard of Heritage Bank before, might have to Wait Awhile longer to get it over here. Cool that they are starting trials. Do you think you guys could get a response from Westpac on how their trial went last year??

    We end up with these crazy partnerships here when we need a Telco, bank and credit card provider. Doesn’t leave much chance that it will fit each users current use case. Fortunately there are two main credit card providers doing contactless payments and their terminals are becoming well spread… so that lessens the usability puzzle down alot. Interestingly, i would be less likely to change Telco (contract and general mobile coverage for normal usage) for an NFC payment system, but more likely to set up a new credit card at a new bank to get this going for me.

    Straight google wallet would be so much easier, especially with their latest changes (allowing whatever credit card you currently have registered). As you don’t need a telco partnership for the secure SIM, nor the bank for the specific CC account.

  • Same Same

    The SIM card doesn’t have NFC, it is just using a secure section of that sim. NFC will still be done by the Android phone.

    • http://ausdroid.net/ Daniel Tyson

      From the Optus Press release : “The trial application is loaded onto the phone and connects to the NFC-enabled SIM card, allowing the contactlesspayment to occur, without any additional hardware.”

      If you actually work for Optus, Visa or the Heritage Bank and are you willing to come and do an interview on this matter, we would of course like to verify your credentials prior to it?

  • Kenny

    I wonder if the NFC in the sim card will conflict with the built in NFC in the Nexus phones.

    • Cousie G

      This needs to be cleared up as this causes a lot of confusion. The sim card does not have nfc. It contains a secure element to protect you card details. Android phones have the secure element built in but only google can currently modify the data (google wallet). So the only solution is for 3rd parties to have their own secure element on their sim cards.

      TL;DR The detection of the terminal and transmission of data is done by nfc on the phone. Storage of data (card details) is on the secure element which is on the sim card.

      • http://ausdroid.net/ Daniel Tyson

        Fine : Once and for all cleared up from the Optus Press release : “The trial application is loaded onto the phone and connects to the NFC-enabled SIM card, allowing the contactlesspayment to occur, without any additional hardware.”

        So, do you actually work for Optus, Visa or the Heritage Bank and are you willing to come and do an interview after first verifying your credentials?

  • bunnybash

    Why the sim card? Why wouldn’t they just use the NFC which is already in half the phones they sell??

    • ChipMonk

      NFC is a communications function only and is like Bluetooth. Hence the NFC chip in the handset is about comms only. The SIM which has a Secure Element is where the payment card details are stored, much like your payment chip card. A NFC enabled SIM means a SIM that complies to Single Wire Protocol standard and is able to interface to the NFC chip to communicate through a contactless action – the same as your PayPass or PayWave card functions. There are some SIMs that are being developed to incorporate NFC comms – but these remain early days and not 100% reliant. You need to separate NFC chip from SIM and the Secure Element.