Telefónica O2 to trial NFC services using 12,500 employees

Telefónica has moved to the next stage with its NFC assessment by announcing plans to involve 12,500 employees across Europe in a large scale trial of contactless services.

The company said that this new project, labelled Distrito NFC, will initially involve around 1,000 Telefónica workers at its headquarters in Madrid, in what it calls "the first international corporate experience to bring NFC technology to a real corporate environment."

Those involved with the trial will be provided with NFC-enabled handsets to enable the secure payment for goods at retail outlets on the company's campus and at local businesses. Telefónica also confirmed that these employees could use the handsets to gain secure access to their offices, among other functions.

Telefónica Spain CEO Guillermo Ansaldo said that the Distrito initiative, together with other NFC projects involving Telefónica O2 subsidiaries, was aimed at preparing the company to lead the way in NFC developments.

"It is estimated that the number of mobile NFC enabled mobile handsets will reach 260 million in 2014," Ansaldo said in a statement, "while the value of the transactions made will surpass €80 billion worldwide."

Telefónica confirmed that partners involved with the Distrito project included G&D, Oberthur, Sermepa, Visa, Bankinter, BBVA and La Caixa. Samsung will provide the NFC-enabled debices.

The operator recently conducted a wide-ranging commercial pilot of NFC in the Spanish city of Sitges, involving 1,500 residents and 500 businesses. According to a Mobile Europe report, this six-month trial saw those involved increase their electronic transactions by 30 per cent.

Separately, Telefónica O2 Czech Republic has announced that it will launch an NFC-based payment trial starting mid-2011. The six-month project would involve 200 O2 customers equipped with Samsung S5230 NFC mobile phones that would have the O2 Wallet payment app pre-installed. The trial, which will take place in the capital Prague and in the city of Pilsen, will also involve Komerční Banka, Citibank Europe, Visa and the supermarket chain Globus.

For more:
- see this Cellular News article
- see this Mobile Europe article
- see this NFC World article

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