MegaFon and VimpelCom began distributing updated SIM cards from Gemalto to enable their Russian subscribers to access an NFC-based mobile ticketing service in Moscow.
The Netherlands-based SIM card company said it is supplying each operator with its UpTeq Multi-Tenant NFC SIM cards, enabling MegaFon and VimpelCom to offer access to the Troika public transport mobile ticketing app, which launched in September 2015.
Subscribers with an NFC-equipped smartphone can use Troika to pay for tram, bus and metro train tickets directly from their mobile account.
Gemalto said Troika has a potential market of around 7 million Moscow commuters each day, and tipped the mobile ticketing app to enjoy strong take up in the coming years.
The company said the SIM cards supplied to MegaFon and VimpelCom are also capable of supporting services including mobile NFC payments, providing the operators with the option of offering additional contactless services moving forward.
"Consumers are keen to use their smartphones to take the stress and strain out of modern day-to-day, and contactless clearly represents the future for a wide range of services," Philippe Cambriel, president of Europe and CIS at Gemalto said.
MegaFon and VimpelCom are "now positioned at the forefront of these life trends," Cambriel continued, adding that utilising the Gemalto SIMs leaves the operators "ideally placed to extend their contactless offers to payment and access control" among other services.
Hayk Karapetyan, director of financial service at MegaLabs -- a wholly owned subsidiary of MegaFon focused on launching value-added services -- said tapping into Moscow's mobile ticketing system "is another step in implementing MegaFon's mobile commerce development strategy," whereby the operator aims to encourage subscribers to "see their mobile phone account as a fully-fledged financial tool they can use for day-to-day expenses."
Karapetyan said the number of NFC-compatible smartphones available in Russia almost doubled in the past year, while usage of mobile payments increased 60 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2015. Revenue from mobile financial services rose 30 per cent in the same period, he said.
For VimpelCom -- which operates the Beeline brand in Russia -- Gemalto's experience in NFC was a key factor in choosing its SIM cards, MFS director Alexander Sakharov said. "With a strong local presence and personalisation centre in Russia we know they can serve us with a very high level of responsiveness," he commented.
- see this Gemalto announcement
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