Digicel Pacific Limited, a mobile network operator across the Pacific and a division of the Digicel Group, has deployed VeriFone mWallet services and NFC-enabled payment systems to offer its entire customer base access to the latest NFC technology to facilitate Mobile Money transactions.
Launching in the Kingdom of Tonga this week Digicel says the new service is truly inclusive because customers do not need a bank account, credit card or a smart phone.
The innovative NFC-enabled merchant payment solution uses NFC tags from Digicel linked to mobile numbers and VeriFone’s contactless payment acceptance systems. Digicel Tonga subscribers are now able to pay for goods and services with a tap of their phone at 50 merchants in the capital of Nuku’alofa and both companies say that that they plan to extend the new service to the entire Pacific Island nation.
Many Tongans are unbanked and credit card penetration is extremely low. In addition, an NFC capable smart phone is a luxury item for people in a country where many families have a dependence on international remittances from New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
The new service follows the introduction of International Money Transfers direct to Mobile Wallets by Digicel late last year. Families in New Zealand can instantly send money online directly to Digicel subscribers’ mobiles in the Pacific for much lower cost than established operators such as banks and traditional Money Transfer operators. According to a 2011 World Bank report remittance payments constitute more than 30% of the Tongan GDP, placing it 2nd in the world for dependence on remittances.
Darren McLean, Commercial Director for Digicel Pacific, said, “International remittances play a vital role in the economies of the Pacific. We believe the level of convenience, lower cost and easy authentication provided by Digicel and VeriFone can transform the way our customers receive, manage and spend their money in this region. Combining our existing Mobile Money product with VeriFone mWallet services and NFC acceptance systems helps us offer our subscribers an easy, convenient and integrated mobile money experience. We think this will open the way to making Mobile Money the everyday means of payment in our Pacific markets – from groceries, airtime top-up and utility bills, through to wages and government payments,” he said.
The Minister of Finance for the Kingdom of Tonga, the Honourable Sunia Fili noted that Digicel’s Mobile Money service helps to increase financial inclusion in Tonga. “Many Tongans rely on money transfers from within the Kingdom or from relatives in New Zealand and Australia. Digicel’s electronic payment network creates an integrated financial system to connect these money transfers with local sellers. It is easy to use, and being the first country to offer an all-inclusive payment system like this places Tonga in front of the most advanced economies in the world.”
VeriFone mWallet is a complete mobile money wallet solution designed to meet the needs of mobile operators for Telco-based money transfer and payment services in emerging markets. The VeriFone mWallet services deployed with Digicel enable convenient mobile money wallet transactions at the point-of-sale using VeriFone’s biometric and contactless payment acceptance systems.
The next generation NFC payments solution is the result of a partnership between Digicel, VeriFone, and New Zealand based currency exchange company KlickEx.