Mobile payments company set to launch
Vodafone, Telecom, 2degrees and bank-owned eftpos company Paymark hope to set up a joint venture next month that they believe could make bank cards and plastic identity cards obsolete.
The companies first announced plans to form a mobile payments joint venture in April last year, since when both Vodafone and Telecom have run technology trials using mobile phones equipped with NFC (near field communication) technology.
Vodafone wholesale manager Steve Rieger said discussions between the four companies were "progressing positively", and an announcement about the joint venture was hoped for February.
The new company would promote a new generation of phones containing contactless chips that would let people pay for items by tapping them against eftpos terminals.
European Union regulators approved a similar joint venture between Britain's three largest mobile operators in September.
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said last year that driver licences, library cards, travel cards, loyalty cards and other identity cards could go the same way as bank cards, replaced by an application on a chip in a mobile phone.
Rival payment company Snapper last year gave Wellingtonians an early taste of NFC technology through a range of phones sold by 2degrees that can be used in place of Snapper cards on buses and in shops. They can display customers' available balance if turned on at the time of payment.
One advantage of mobile phones over conventional bank cards is they can be remotely disabled if stolen to prevent fraud. Another is that receipts can be sent electronically to the phone rather than having to be printed.
However, Tong has acknowledged plastic cards are unlikely to die out quickly and many people might prefer them because they are not breakable.