17 October 2007

Singapore , 17 October 2007 – Just six weeks after announcing a partnership to trial NFC services in Singapore, EZ-Link and StarHub today announced that they have completed a series of internal trials. With over 20,000 ez-link payment acceptance points in both the public transport and retail sectors, this trial would be among the largest of its kind in the world and will be the first public trial in Singapore.

From the 18-21 October 2007, EZ-Link and StarHub will distribute the handsets for a 6-month trial to their customers.  These customers have been pre-selected from over 2,600 applicants who had participated in a short NFC public survey conducted online.

These trialists will have an opportunity to experience the convenience of using the NFC phone for payments and as a medium to download useful as well as promotional information from smart posters. Their feedback will be essential in understanding behavioral patterns and user acceptance of the NFC phone which will be one of the critical factors in considering introducing the service on a commercial basis.

“We are very pleased with the progress of this collaboration with StarHub and other partners, each of whom has played a critical role to enable us to successfully complete the internal trials within a short period of time and obtain information necessary to proceed to the next stage - the public trial.  Given that this is the first-of-its-kind public trial in Singapore, we are sure that it will excite the public and generate the type of response and feedback we need, and take us another step towards new payment possibilities for Singapore,” said Mr Nicholas Lee, Senior Vice President of Business and Technology at EZ-Link.

“EZ-Link’s and StarHub’s first steps toward the implementation and adoption of the NFC technology demonstrate the companies’ focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies that add significant value and convenience to consumers in Singapore,” said Mr Anil Nihalani, Vice President of StarHub’s Mobile Services. “The feedback from our trialists will help us understand consumer behaviour toward the NFC technology and provide valuable inputs as we develop new and exciting applications and services that utilise the technology.”

Commenting on the trial, Mr Ang Wei Neng, Director, Operations Development, SBS Transit said, "We welcome all technology improvements which will help make commuting more convenient. As this is a new technology, we will closely monitor its roll out." 

Mr Vincent Tan, Vice President, Rail Operations, SMRT Trains Ltd, said: “SMRT is constantly looking at harnessing technology and innovation to deliver a delightful travel experience for commuters. We will work closely with the NFC phone trial partners to develop the effectiveness use of this new payment mode in our transport network.” 

The EZ-Link-StarHub partnership aims to integrate the ez-link purse into a mobile phone with NFC, a short-range wireless technology that enables contact-less applications,.  In doing so, they will turn these phones into payment devices that could soon be accepted at over 20,000 ez-link terminals on buses, trains and at retail locations that accept ez-link payment. Besides being able to use their NFC-enabled mobile phones as a means of payment at all ez-link acceptance points, users could also use them for other innovative 'contact-less' mobile phone applications.

At the Partners Event held at The Arts House to celebrate the successful launch of the NFC Phone trial were  technology partners iWOW, Sony and NXP along with other participating partners Cassis International, Citibank, ClearChannel, Golden Village, the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA), SMRT Media, ViVOtech and Wisma Atria.

Congratulating both StarHub and EZ-Link,  Mr Jeroen Keunen, Senior Director Marketing and Sales Asia Pacific, Identification, NXP Semiconductors said, "As co-inventor of the NFC technology NXP is delighted to partner with EZ-Link and StarHub in this trial to expand the existing range of 'tap and go' services offered in Singapore. With acceptance levels for contactless applications already so high here, the participants using the NFC-enabled mobile phones in this trial are sure to appreciate the benefits and ease of use made possible by NFC's secure technology for transportation, information access and mobile payments. This trial is sure to usher in a new era of convenience for Singapore's public."

Echoing the same sentiment, Mr. Henry (Hakuyu) Yoh, director of Sony Electronics Asia Pacific Pte Ltd said, “Sony is extremely pleased to partner both EZ-Link and StarHub for this trial. Being one of the developers of the NFC technology, Sony aims to further expand the adoption of contactless smart card applications in mobile devices to bring about a more convenient and exciting user experience for consumers,” He further went on to say, “This is the first time that Sony is participating in such a big trial outside of Japan and we hope that the trial participants will enjoy the multi- applications made possible by Sony’s FeliCa technology”.

To give trialists the ease of receiving bus service information, LTA will be deploying smart tags at 32 selected bus stops with a high volume of commuter traffic along Orchard Road. By tapping against the NFC smart tag on the Bus Service Information Poster, trialists can obtain a list of bus service numbers and routes that call at that bus stop  via GPRS. This service is provided free of charge to trialists for the duration of the trial.

Alongside LTA’s smart tags, Citibank and Wisma will be offering specialized offers to the trialists. By tapping onto smart posters mounted in Wisma Atria Shopping Mall and Orchard MRT station’s concourse level, trialists will be interacting with the environment to receive these specialized offers during the six month trial.

Aside from these, there will be up to 500 ClearChannel bus shelters equipped  with the smart tags along with another 200 smart tags or smart posters at 9 Golden Village Cineplexes  and a further 200 smart tags at Sony Gallery Stores that will communicate their promotions and special offers to the trialists

More than $20,000 worth of prizes will be given away to trialists during this trial.

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