Virtual wallet within reach
The country's first digital wallet promises all the convenience of paying for a coffee, bus ticket or topping up your mobile with the swipe of a smartphone.
But the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders toting Apple's ubiquitous iPhone will have to do things the old-fashioned way.
This afternoon Auckland Transport, Telecom and Westpac launched a trial of their virtual wallet at global tech company Thales' test laboratory.
The wallet uses near-field communications (NFC) technology to enable tap-and-go style payments on public transport and at some retailers.
It also allows Telecom customers to top up their accounts from within the wallet.
A trial run with 30 or so people will take place over the next few months, and consumers are expected to be able to use the technology by late next year.
Auckland's buses, ferries, trains and some taxis will eventually have contactless ticketing terminals in place as part of the integrated fare system.
A few retail shops already have the contactless terminals in place, which can be used to make small purchases.
Modern smartphones that use the Android operating system, like the Samsung S3 used in the demonstration, have NFC capability built in.
But despite rumours that NFC would be the breakthrough feature of the latest iPhone 5 iteration, it does not have the technology.
That does not appear to be a dealbreaker, with pre-sales of the popular phone already sold out for most models ahead of the Friday launch here.
Westpac, Auckland Transport and Telecom emphasised that their wallet prototype was the first stage of a "much bigger vision", which would eventually involve multiple vendors and service providers.
Mobile phone wallets will eventually hold customer reward and loyalty cards, multiple credit or payment cards, and transport cards all in one place, possibly making physical wallets obsolete.
Telecom chief product officer Rod Snodgrass said it would continue to work with partners, including competitors, to "create an eco-system that makes life easier for our end-users".
By international standards, the development of the NFC infrastructure in New Zealand has been co-operative.
Earlier this year the three major telcos and bank-owned eftpos operator Paymark announced a joint venture to become a "trusted service manager".
2degrees pioneered the first commercial application of the mobile NFC technology in May, forming a partnership with Snapper.
The telco's customers can use Android smartphones to make contactless payments on public transport in Wellington and Auckland, and in about 500 shops which accept Snapper cards.
The BNZ also concluded a trial recently that saw 44 volunteers issued with NFC-capable smartphones, which they could use to make Visa purchases at two cafes in Wellington and Auckland.
- © Fairfax NZ News