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Westpac Is Bringing Contactless Payments To Your SIM Card [Updated]

Tired of the Commonwealth Bank blaming Android handset manufacturers for the lack of NFC-support in its phone wallet product, Kaching? Well so is Westpac, and today it’s announced a new Android contactless payment application that uses the SIM card to transmit the payment data. No case required.

Westpac has teamed up with Mastercard for the application, which is only in its pilot stage so far.

The secure element — the thing that makes contactless payments possible via mobile — will be embedded in the SIM card with Westpac’s product, meaning you don’t need to strap a case onto your device, nor do you have to worry about whether or not your device has NFC.

Here’s the full Q&A we had with Westpac:

How many people on the pilot?
There are approximately 100 people participating in the pilot.

Are testers Westpac staff or members of the public?
Pilot participants are a combination of internal employees and external vendors.

Which phones are the testers using?
Samsung Galaxy SIII running Google’s Android platform are being used to trial the app.

How does the SIM-based payment technology differ from NFC? How does it work?
They are not mutually exclusive. You need an NFC phone to be able to communicate with the POS terminal. The SIM is being used to securely store the users card details. This could be the SIM or the embedded chip on the phone. We have chosen to use the SIM. Irrespective of where the card details are securely stored, the NFC capabilities of the phone are needed to communicate with the POS terminal.

How long is the trial period?
The trial period is three months.

What will you do once the trial is finished?
We will use the customer experience and technology learnings from the pilot to design and deliver Mobile Payments products and solutions for our customers.

How can people register their interest in this?
We are not registering customer interest in this at the moment. When this solution is made available for customers it will be an additional payment option that our customers will be offered.

Why aren’t you using the NFC technology already built into phones like the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy SIII?
The solution is using the inbuilt NFC technology of the Samsung Galaxy SIII. There are no additional hardware requirements to make it work. We have created an application so that the user can make the payment and added their Debit MasterCard details onto the SIM. The inbuilt NFC in the phone then enables the card details to be securely transmitted to the Point of Sale Terminal.

Will this ever be available for iPhone? Are you testing that?
Android is currently being used as it is NFC capable. We are actively engaging in building payment capabilities across all mobile phone technology and recently launched a Mobile PayWay product specifically for Apple iPhone.

Image: Junpei Abe