First National Bank has recently begun issuing credit cards with embedded “tap and go” near-field communication (NFC) technology built into them.
“FNB can confirm that all new FNB credit cards that are being issued are enabled with the contactless payment feature,” said Chris Labuschagne, the CEO of FNB’s credit card division, in an e-mailed response to questions.
TechCentral readers this week pointed out that the bank had begun issuing the NFC-based cards.
“Customers who receive these cards are being notified thereof. However, the ability to use these cards is still dependent on whether the merchant has the functionality to accept these payments,” Labuschagne said.
Delaine Patrick, chief information officer of FNB’s credit card division, said the bank has already issued 188 000 NFC credit cards to its clients, enabling them to make tap-and-go payments at supported point-of-sale (POS) terminals.
FNB was not able to say how many NFC-enabled POS devices have been rolled out in South Africa. “We are able to confirm that FNB and other South African banks are rolling these devices out,” said Patrick.
He said FNB has decided to ring-fence its NFC roll-out to South Africa for now, meaning the bank’s clients can’t use their NFC-enabled credit cards to make purchases abroad. This has been done to allow for a “controlled test environment”.
“We have recently completed a further pilot on the usage of these cards internationally and now plan to open [them] … for international use in the near future,” Patrick said.
“This being said, please be reminded that not all countries accept NFC transactions. In these countries, the cards will simply fall back onto the chip-and-Pin functionality.”
Patrick hinted that FNB is also working on bringing NFC tap-and-go payments to its smartphone application. “We are working on a number of mobile initiatives, which does include NFC,” he said.
A number of South African banks, including Absa and Standard Bank, have trialled NFC technology in recent years.
In late 2012, Standard Bank announced it would begin including contactless payment technology in new credit and cheque cards. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media