Turkcell unveils 'smart' mobile wallet that works with any handset

Turkcell claims its new mobile wallet service is the world's most advanced by enabling physical or online shopping using the subscriber's mobile phone number instead of a credit card.

Turkcell launched its new mobile wallet solution.

The company says its mobile wallet app works with any phone and enables person-to-person money transfers, point-of-sale transactions, bill payments and the integration of coupons and loyalty cards. All secure elements are held on the SIM card, providing Turkcell with control of the wallet app.

The wallet app preinstalls a default prepaid card, but users can attach any MasterCard credit card to the wallet by texting the last six numbers of the credit card to a short code, according to Mobile Europe. Turkcell said cards from other scheme providers could be attached in time, but its launch bank, Garanti Bank, uses MasterCard. Turkcell said it plans to add support for 13 more banks soon.

"We are putting the prepaid card into the virtual wallet. If a user has a credit card, they can enter that into the Turkcell wallet. Everything is stored in the SIM, which provides the security," Cenk Bayrakdar, Turkcell's chief new technology business officer, told the Wall Street Journal.

He added that the wallet can also be used online. "In Turkey, a lot of people don't like to enter their credit card information online. Here they just enter their phone number."

Bayrakdar stressed that the new service is "the most secure way of conducting transactions [online] currently available in the world." After a user enters their phone number, they receive a text message confirming the purchase. The user then has to enter their card PIN on the phone to authorise payment, with no information being passed to the merchant other then the buyer's phone number, reports the WSJ.

While the wallet service will enable NFC point-of-sale payments, Bayrakdar told Mobile Europe that Turkcell wants to develop a non-NFC solution that would work across all handsets. The company claims its NFC service "is not picking up as expected" due to a lack of NFC compatible handsets and NFC-SIM issues, leading to the need to launch a more universal mobile wallet product.

Turkcell expects the wallet service to attract 500,000 users by the end of this year and two million users by the end of 2013.

Of note, Turkcell will be taking around 10 per cent in value from any vouchers or coupons that are redeemed, together with an undisclosed commission on payments from online merchants, and a small (about €0.40) surcharge on utility bill payments, according to Mobile Europe.

For more:
- see this Turkcell release
- see this WSJ blog (sub. req.)
- see this Mobile Europe article

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