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MWC: The road to NFC

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An NFC-enabled phone preloaded with apps was the passport to a new experience of mobile payments across the city of Barcelona this week.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 took over Barcelona this week as the city came alive with over 70 000 visitors to the event from around the world.

This year the conference offered an integrated approach to Near Field Communications (NFC), with organisers GMSA partnering with Sony Mobile Communications to provide 3500 media and VIP attendees with the NFC-enabled Xperia T smartphone to create an NFC Experience theme that covered not only the MWC venue, but also the city of Barcelona.

Four partners in the project, Visa Europe, Gemalto, CaixaBank and mobile operator Telefónica, provided applications that were preloaded onto the device. As a result, they were able to deliver a mobile contactless payment experience throughout the city.

A Telefonica Wallet included a la Caixa Visa gift card and mobile contactless payment application with Eu15 balance for spending in Barcelona, as well as a voucher with coupons for redeeming via NFC. An official MWC mobile app also allowed for download of an entrance pass and ID onto the device to replace physical cards.

‚”Contactless transaction numbers quadrupled across Europe in 2012 and will quadruple again this year,” said Sandra Alzetta, Senior Vice President at Visa Europe, commenting on the NFC Experience. “”In the UK there are now more than 2.5 million contactless transactions every month. There is a natural evolution from contactless cards to mobile devices and we’ve seen a fantastic response from the markets where this kind of service is commercially available.””

Jean-Claude Deturche, Senior Vice President Mobile Financial Services at digital security leaders Gemalto, added: ‚””MWC, with its numerous meeting points and bustling activity, is the perfect environment to experience the speed and convenience of contactless services. Gemalto is at the heart of 50 mobile NFC projects, with many of the world’s leading Mobile Operators, Banks, Retailers, Transport Operators and Service Providers. Global adoption is on its way with payment being one of the pillar services in the NFC ecosystem.‚””

Apart from contactless payments, MWC 2013 provided a showcase for a host of trends ranging from augmented reality to embedded devices and connected cities. The App Planet Hall, for example, brought together more than 12,000 application developers, and mPowered Brands provided a meeting point for the world’s largest consumer brands, to accelerate marketers’ knowledge of mobile as a marketing medium.

Steve Girsky, vice chairman of General Motors talked up the possibilities of M2M in his address. He claimed that the automobile was the original mobile device, starting the trend for personal travel, which has made mobile communications so essential.

As a result, he believes manufacturers should always be innovating with in-car technology. Gemalto attracted attention at MWC with its own in-car technology, when announcing a world first: the selection of its automotive M2M technology to equip the Audi A3 car.

Thanks to the solution, drivers will benefit from full-4G connectivity inside the car with multimedia streaming and downloads, plus a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot for up to eight devices.

Gemalto’s Cinterion M2M technology makes this all possible by being harder-wearing and longer-lasting than other alternatives.

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