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National Bank of Kuwait Partners With Visa, Zain

To launch the first EMV chip compliant NFC Visa payWave mobile payment trial in the Middle East

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) and Visa have partnered with Zain, a telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa, to launch the first Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payment trial in the GCC, using NFC enabled Nokia devices.

Reportedly, the six month pilot program will start from October 2009 to April 2010 using NFC software technology provided by VIVOtech. The trial will allow 500 selected NBK cardholders to download their Zain Visa credit card account details directly to their Nokia handset over the Zain network. Once the account has been personalized on the phone, customers can then begin to make purchases at any one of the 100 merchant partner outlets at Kuwait’s mall, The Avenues by simply passing a Nokia mobile phone over the Visa payWave reader at the point of sale.

NBK has said that there are three innovations occurring within this trial. The concept of ‘smart posters’ will be introduced to consumers, allowing them to collect retail offers that can be immediately redeemed for purchases at partner outlets simply by tapping their mobile phone against the poster. Secondly, customers and trial participants will be able to download a free Visa prepaid card by tapping the phone on a smart poster. Thirdly, participants with a credit card and a pre paid card, will also have the option to choose to pay from either cards from their phone at the point of sale, allowing flexibility and convenience.

Moreover, purchases will be charged directly to the customer’s NBK Zain Visa credit card or Visa prepaid card account just as they would be with a traditional card payment.

Through this pilot program, NBK, Visa and Zain will gather user insight across a range of parameters that include customer acceptance of making contactless transactions through mobile NFC, customer card preference between credit and Visa prepaid while making a payment and tracking of response to NFC-enabled smart posters and coupon redemptions.

Shaikha Khalid Al Bahar, deputy CEO of NBK, said: “NBK is proud to launch the first EMV Chip compliant NFC Visa payWave mobile payment trial in the Middle East. Partnering with Visa and Zain has given us a strong platform from which to launch this innovative mobile payWave payment trial for our customers. We are pleased that our customers can benefit from the ease and convenience of paying for their everyday items with their everyday device and also enjoy dynamic retail offers through smart posters while still enjoying the same level of security that a NBK Visa card transaction provides.”