Poste Italiane says it will be the first company in Italy to introduce contactless payment systems for its customers, using near-field communication (NFC) technology.
NFC systems use radio waves to transfer information, and means that retail customers can use their mobile phones to make payments for products or services without having to provide a signature or PIN number.
The technology is around a decade old, but only recently have broad industry standards been developed.
Poste Italiane said its phone division PosteMobile has adopted the technology and it has also been integrated into its BancoPosta business.
But the next step looks set to include contactless payment systems in post offices, starting with Milan towards the end of 2013, and even mail carriers could accept electronic payments via NFC mobile devices.
Customers will be able to pay for products and services up to EUR 25 in value, with higher-value sales continuing to require a PIN number to be supplied.
“Poste Italiane will be the first to offer its customers the full service platform – an exclusive PosteMobile SIM card that will allow you to use the phone as a means of payment in stores and authorised post offices,” the company said.
“The network of post offices will adopt NFC technology to accept payment by mobile phone for postal services, financial services and topping up mobile phones and Postepay prepaid credit cards.”
Poste Italiane said it integrated payment systems through its PosteMobile service since its launch, and has already taken phone payments through BancoPosta for 1m customers, representing more than EUR 250m in transactions.
It said adopting NFC technology represented the “natural evolution” of mobile payments, which are becoming more versatile in the kind of applications in which they can be used, including contactless payments for shopping in stores, identity verification and ticket purchases.
“The new generation of PosteMobile SIM will make purchases in many outlets throughout Italy that are already using the NFC system,” the company said, adding that many shops in the Milan area are already using the contactless payment technology.
“In fact, it will be in Milan in which the first post offices will provide this technology, as early as next December.”
Poste Italiane said in the near future NFC technology will allow payments for government services and identity verification for people to apply for passports, licenses and health cards.
Other postal operators introducing contactless payment systems at the moment include Post Office Ltd in the UK, which is rolling out Europe’s largest contactless payment system, and Russian Post, which is trialling the technology with credit card company MasterCard.
Source: Post&Parcel/Poste Italiane