Standard bank claims ‘world first’ with NFC-enabled debit card

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Standard Bank has rolled out what it claims is the world’s first bank card to include both NFC and debit card functionality.

The so-called Muvo card was developed in partnership with the South African bank’s business development centre and innovation incubator Beyond Payments. The debit card functionality will come from Mastercard, which has given the card the go-ahead.

Beyond Payments claims the dual-function card “is believed to be a world first in the realm of cashless payment technology.”

The product was designed to meet the specifications of the country’s National Department of Transport. This is because the first members of the public to try it out will be a select group of bus passengers in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

These pilot commuters will load credit onto their cards and then tap it against a sensor upon boarding the bus, with the project eventually to be rolled out across the region.

“The Muvo card is a world first, and showcases a transit ticket sitting inside a banking chip, secured with bank strength security, along with a payment wallet,” said Herman Singh, chief executive officer of Beyond Payments.

Just because Muvo lays claim to these firsts, it doesn’t mean there aren’t similar products out there. Another South African example comes in the form of the cards used on the MyCiti bus network in Cape Town.

In MyCiti’s case the cards include support from both MasterCard and Visa, and people can spend up to R200 on them from any retail outlet that accepts debit cards.

There is no indication of when NFC might be rolled out on a wider scale in the country, although Standard Bank says it is already issuing debit and credit cards that are ready for the technology.

Competitor bank ABSA has also been trialing NFC for some time now, although it has yet to release anything wide-scale. First National Bank meanwhile recently launched a geo-payment service that allows people with its smartphone app to make payments within 500 metres of each other.

It’s unclear which system will eventually win out, but there are some who reckon that NFC is the future of mobile money.

Looks like banking’s about to get very interesting.

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