Thinking of buying a new smart phone, it might be a good idea to get one with an NFC chip in it because AT and Thales are trialling using NFC with the final (real) hop. That would mean you wouldn’t need a separate Hop card and would just need to swipe your mobile phone to pay for your PT trip. It’s also a world first for Thales meaning we could actually be leading the world on something PT related. Here is the press release:

Auckland Transport, Telecom and Westpac to trial Mobile Wallet

Paying for services through your mobile phone is closer to reality after Telecom, Auckland Transport and Westpac have announced plans to start trialling a mobile wallet system from May in collaboration with Gemalto, Thales and Paymark.

In a major milestone for the development of mobile payments technology, the trial will involve some 30 staff from the six organisations. Trial participants will be able to use a mobile phone to make “tap and go” payments to access public transport inAucklandand make purchases at a small selection of retailers.

In a world first, Thales will be using its near-field communication (NFC) application throughout Auckland Transport’s final smart card ticketing system, HOP, before deploying it globally across all networks and banks. The trial, which utilises Telecom’s XT network, is expected to enable participants to pay forAuckland’s buses, trains and ferries through their mobile phones.  The phone will communicate with the HOP terminal to complete the transaction without having to swipe or insert a card.  

Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, Dr David Warburton said:

“Mobile phone technology makes the option of paying for transport services using a device the majority of New Zealanders carry with them every day, a natural choice reducing the number of cards customers have to carry. We look forward to working with our technology and service partners in this trial.”

And in aNew Zealandfirst, the trial will also use a Westpac credit card to top up a Telecom XT Prepaid account, using Paymark’s infrastructure.  This will make it easier for customers to add credit to a prepaid card without having to go online or pay in a store.

Telecom CEO, Paul Reynolds, said that the days of people having to use multiple plastic cards to pay for goods and services were quickly becoming numbered.   

“As we have seen with developments in mobile phone technology, people quite rightly expect their phones to offer more versatility and functionality and simplify their lifestyles.  And we’re absolutely committed to developing the mobile wallet through our investment in building a common trusted services manager forNew Zealand. 

“The information gained from this trial will be invaluable for developing a mobile wallet with the kinds of innovative products and services that our customers can expect on the XT network.”

Westpac General Manager Customer Technology and Services, Jim Stabback, said the trial is a step toward Kiwis joining the growing global trend of banking via mobile phone.

“This is an important part of Westpac’s innovation pipeline and it’s an excellent opportunity to build further capability in this area as theNew Zealandbanking industry moves toward a mobile future,” Mr Stabback said.

For the trial, Gemalto will provide the essential network infrastructure required for near-field communications including its Trusted Service Management platform (TSM).

“Gemalto is excited to be the technology partner in this strategic trial. Our goal is to provide an open, interoperable and neutral NFC ecosystem for operators, banks, service providers and merchants. This allows them to provide not just secure mobile contactless payments, but also a variety of new services such as loyalty and e-couponing in a fast, secure and convenient manner,” said Tan Teck Lee, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer & Asia President.

“Having been involved in over 50 NFC projects, we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience withNew Zealandas it transforms its payment environment.”

Earlier this month Telecom, Vodafone, 2Degrees and Paymark announced a joint venture to launch a TSM which will provide a common solution for theNew Zealandmarket to encourage consumer uptake and avoid confusion.  The technology and solutions prototyped in this trial will ultimately be available to all New Zealanders, across all mobile operators, via the TSM.

I’m very please with this announcement, well done AT and Thales and if we could just get the real hop rolled out we can start living in the future. I guess it also means I will have to start working on a business case to convince the wife that I need a new phone soon.

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  1. Very smooth, and with one well-aimed blow Thales kills Snapper.
    Will this require some dodgy crapware app on a NFC phone?

    1. Yes. It will require NFC phone and an app that can talk to NFC and pretend to be a Hop Card.

  2. Cool, but I think we should be concentrating on the core functionality first. When is the limited functionality pilot supposed to be starting, or is this it? Have NZ Bus replaced all of their validators yet?!

    1. Agreed. I’d rather see effort go into realtime service and timetable data on a phone app. C’mon AT, basics first.

      1. TimR, The Maxx Android app is reasonably useful already, at least with the realtime info. (It’s the same info, so no worse, than the electronic signs at bus-stops).

        1. The reviews on Google Play are mixed (to be polite) – I think I’ll just stick with Google Maps / Navigation.

        2. I’m wondering why I did not even know about it…!? Is Maxx actually advertising this? Found it by googling just now, but never ever come across it despite lots of use of Maxx website.

  3. I’m a bit concerned that Auckland Transport might be handing a monopoly on mobile wallet to Thales, Telecom, and Westpac. Auckland Transport’s job is to sell tickets, not to pick winners in the financial services industry. I also don’t think it is Auckland Transport’s job to set standards for mobile wallet transactions, except as they apply to the purchase of tickets for Auckland Transport services. I’m hoping that this will be an open standards based system that doesn’t lock others out of the mobile wallet market.

    1. Obi, you must have missed the part of the quite above that said “Our goal is to provide an open, interoperable and neutral NFC ecosystem for operators, banks, service providers and merchants.”

      1. If that was the case then there would have been no need to select Thales. AT could have announced a standard and said that any compliant vendor was invited to exploit it. Instead, AT have selected Thales and selected Thales’ preferred standard. By doing so they’ve made Thales the preferred vendor and NFC the default standard for NZ’s mobile wallet service.

        I’d prefer that banking standards were set collectively by the trading banks and a government representative like RBNZ or MED. Not a regional transport agency and a French armaments company.

  4. First, my understanding is the Thales still hasn’t finalised the specification of the system which means the machine manufacturer has not finalised the design which means the bus operators still haven’t ordered the machines. It seems that everyone is ready to get the HOP system up and running except for Thales/AT!!!

    Second, I am concerned over Westpac’s involvement. This happened in the UK where only one bank had the right to put the Oyster card chip into their cards, meaning customers of every other bank missed out. Likewise, will this be limited to Telecom customers?

    1. NFC is an open communications standard. Anyone who buys an NFC-chipped phone has the necessary hardware, and provided AT/Thales release/utilise an open wallet standard (which NZTA, to their credit, is likely to insist upon given their approach to openness so far around HOP) anyone can write an app. There’s nothing proprietary about NFC.

      There’s a risk that only Westpac-approved application vendors will have their apps’ certificates given the necessary signing to allow them to work with the on-vehicle readers, but NZTA has been pretty keen thus far to avoid any part of HOP being captured by a single vendor. There’s certainly no risk of capture by Telecom, because there are many avenues to purchase an NFC-capable phone that don’t involve Telecom.

      1. Agree that there is no constraint on it being open to all. I would expect AT to release an iPhone, Android, and Windows 7 app (maybe even a blackberry?) [note: subject to those phones having NFC and timing dependent on programing – focus on the OS with the most users first].

        The risk is however that with Westpac/Telecom paying for the trial (are they?), they ask for an exclusive period in return.

        Alternatively, Telecom could offer AT $1m to be the exclusive network. Think that is unlikely – Mastercard was the offical card of the RWC and only its cards worked inside the stadiums.

        1. Mastercard has a global agreement with Rugby World Cup, though, and it’s easy to restrict who supplies credit cards. Cellphones are a commodity technology, NFC is an open standard, and an app is an app is an app. The only way Telecom could try and achieve that would be to have exclusive rights to sign the certificates of wallet applications, and it would be distinctly trivial to defeat that by copying the .apk to other, non-Telecom phones. Plus, with the prevalence of parallel-imported phones and people now being used to taking their phone from provider to provider I just can’t see it actually working. Too hard to do it right, and doing it wrong would be a huge PR hit.

          What Telecom might get out of it is an exclusive branding relationship where they get to say that particular phones sold in their retail outlets are “HOP ready”, and include a wallet app with the necessary certificates and what have you for HOP to “just work”. I see that as being more likely.

      1. The ‘spec’ maybe finalised but from what I have heard, the manafacturer is still waiting on something to be finalised.

  5. So, let me get this straight- it’s not an app you can download (like everything else in the world is)?

    Anyone know what phones will have the NFC chip? If you cut out iphones, rim and galaxy it’s a pretty pointless system no?

  6. You can also get NFC enabled batteries and sim cards, so for phones that don’t have it built in there are still options

  7. Do you believe this? AT havent completed the basic functionality for their main release. And they are talking about futuristic solutions. In its current shape, only Ferry and Rail can be integrated. Bus will be a long way to go. They need to wait for either Snapper or Parkeon to deliver that. Without focusing on the main goal and deliver what they promised first, these people are just dumbing around. Its logical for people to look into the future, but they need to deliver what is promised for “today” first. AT need to deliver the $100m HOP project first.

    1. I think it’s great that mobile phone functionality is being explored, but yes – have to agree with you – let’s get the card actually rolled out before we add on all this fancy new stuff.

  8. ‘world first’ eh? Might be a world first for Thales but the Japanese have had this kind of tap and go micropayment system (called Mobile Suica) running for the last 6 years –

    Japan was the first to implement such a system and its taking the rest of the world quite some time to play catch up. It would be nice if little old NZ could beat other countries to the punch and implement a system that is as good a service as Mobile Sucia but i’m not holding my breath.

    1. Knowing Japanese mobile companies it is likely that they are using a proprietary chip and one not used outside of Japan. I read the press release as that it was the first implementation of NFC for PT payment which is an open technology

    2. Calling it a world first is getting a bit over-excited, I’d say. You don’t need to spend very much time outside NZ to realise that we’re distinctly behind the pace in this area generally. Is there a reason customers should care that the Japanese system isn’t open? From the sound of things, you’ll still need to have a particular technology on your phone or SIM or battery, and if you don’t you’ll need to change phones, or get a new SIM card or whatever. From an end-user point of view, what difference does it make that the technology is open?

  9. I do agree with comments saying that integrated ticketing needs to come first before fancy add ons but I suspect that this is largely being driven by Thales who see it as a chance to test the functionality on a small market first. Projects like this have many stages and the people that were employed to develop the back end systems may have completed their stage and the project is waiting on other parts. If that is the case then I see nothing wrong with putting those people to work enhancing what already exists to make it better. It is probably better to do that now while things are still fresh in peoples minds rather than wait for months and people have to relearn how things behind the scenes are working again.

    Here is the latest info on the project from the April business report which suggests that the issues we saw a few months ago have now been sorted.

    – The project is now moving into the next stage of rollout, the progressive piloting of limited, but increasing, system functions over the coming months. This pilot will be a closed trial, involving an invited audience, and will focus on field testing commuter related aspects of the system & processes. This will begin with around 100 participants growing to around 2000 by the end of the trial. This phase will provide insight into some further aspects of the future integrated ticketing system. The data collected and lessons learned from the Pilot will be used to help assist the transition into the full implementation of HOP later in the year.
    – The Thales CORE solution and equipment has now passed Factory Acceptance Testing in France and Site Acceptance Testing in Auckland is underway. The Electronic Gates have arrived in New Zealand and the main shipment of Vending and Reload Devices (VRD) is due early in May

  10. On a related note, did anyone notice the subtle change to The bottom graphic used to say general rollout for Hop is “late 2012”, but now it’s “mid 2012”! Next month, fingers crossed.

  11. brasher51, you are most certainly correct. Once again, Snapper and partners have beaten Thales and AT to the punch. I do hope that the Wellington system ends up being successful as like Japan, if you dont stuff around, line up your implementation partners from day one and get on with putting a system in place that actually works, it will be there for the long haul. No doubt the 2degrees / Snapper system will be implemented in Auckland soon and it will be interesting to see the takeup rate amongst exisiting / new Snapper card users. Even without the ability to use the mobile Snapper system on PT, Snapper have Subway outlets and many dairies, convenience stores and petrol stations in AKL on their network and that puts them in a position of strength, particularly come the time when the Thales HOP system starts failing through lack of functionality/integration and customer take up. I can see a situation occuring in the not too distant future where customer pressure / market forces will make these two micropayment systems interconnect as each needs access to the others customer base in order to survive.

    1. I don’t view it as anything good. A proprietary Snapper (1 bus company) limited to 2 degrees (1 mobile provider) doesn’t add up to anything to cheer about. That is meddling about with what the NZTA is trying to achieve to provide a national system of integrated ticketing.

      You can’t even Snapper in Wellington to get to some Wellington suburbs like Newlands or J’ville, or on a Wellington train. Or on the cable car. Who cares if you can get a lousy sandwich if you need to be signed up with more than 1 scheme to make a connection?

  12. Matt I think it is petty that you cannot give even grudging recognition of Snapper’s & 2degrees achievement. There are only a handful of true SIM based open-standards mobile payment services globally and this is way ahead of anything else in Australasia at the moment.

    Telecom/Thales etc. managed to pre-announce a future limited-scale trial only to try and rescue some tiny amount of credibility in the face of Snapper/2degrees full commercial service. Excellent Kiwi innovation!

  13. What I don’t understand is why they are trying to be a “leader” in this space, when they haven’t even got the basics right. How about getting a nice simple website to work where I can top up my child’s hop card online?

  14. The bus, rail and tram systems in Melbourne and Sydney have had the capability to pay with a wave of your phone for years. It’s so convenient. Come on AT…

    1. Still isn’t a thing. The technology exists, and Thales is a very capable service provider, so the barrier is not that.

      We can deduce that the reason is down to finances or politics. Either AT can’t afford it, or there is a restriction (ie allowing third party apps access to the backend) that prevents this being released.

      I just got back from Aus, and being able to tag with my VISA was such an easy and troublefree experience. I wish we had it here.

        1. Sorry, WK? Waka Kotahi?

          It might very well be.. again that would fall under politics though, I have no idea how many parties might be involved in that side.

          I don’t see why adding another revenue stream would be undesirable though.

          Ideally now is the best time to test and roll out new technology, before we have mass tourism again.

        2. This is political interference. The clever bods in Wellington set up an nationwide integrated ticketing programme that AT has to join… but decided it wouldn’t use ATs technology despite there being about a million users already.

          Long story short AT has to change systems so stopped any development based on Thales hop a long time ago.

          You can expect zero upgrades like this.

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