Singapore conducts tests on mobile payment

Singaporean operator Starhub Mobile is dipping its toes into the waters of contactless payment, with plans to allow some subscribers to use their cell phones to pay for bus rides, subway trips, and purchases at convenience stores, an InfoWorld Daily report said.

The report said Starhub, one of three mobile operators in Singapore, will offer the payment service in conjunction with EZ-Link, a government-owned company that operates a contactless payment service based on cards with near-field communication (NFC) technology.

EZ-Link cards can be used to pay for public transport in Singapore as well as purchases in some stores by waving them over a reader, the InfoWorld Daily report said.

Starhub and EZ-Link plan to announce the start of a public trial using NFC-equipped phones, allowing up to 1,000 subscribers to try the service, the report said.

Although Starhub and EZ-Link billed the trial as 'one of the largest NFC trials of its kind in the world,' the use of phones equipped with NFC chips isn't new. Phones equipped with NFC chips are widely used in Japan, accounting for around 50% of all new handsets sold there, the report said.

Starhub also plans to allow users to download information to their handsets using NFC, but has revealed few details of its plans.