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NFC in Turkey: a very mobile home

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Last week we introduced you to the Digital Turkey report, which looks at Turkey’s future as a major player in the digital economy. In the next post in this series I’ll be taking a look at Turkey’s use of NFC.

A few years ago, the idea that you could use your mobile phone to gain entry to your house or apartment would have seemed more at home in a science fiction film. But for those in Turkey, this could become reality in a matter of months.

In the third of our series of posts looking at Turkey’s digital revolution, I will be examining the extraordinary effect that near-field communications (NFC) is having on the everyday lives of Turks.

Considering how attached we all are to our mobile devices (mine goes everywhere with me), it makes sense to be able to also use it as a travel card, or to gain entry to a concert, or let you through your front door. All of this is made possible by NFC technology, which has the potential to forever change the way we use mobile phones.

NFC does far more than just provide a contactless payment function. It can turn the mobile phone into a mobile wallet featuring a full range of value-added services: from making automatic payments to checking their online banking or loyalty program points balance on the go, people can do all sorts of useful things with NFC mobiles.

This affinity with our favourite handheld devices is also good news for mobile operators. With the mobile phone at the heart of this revolution, they will be able to offer innovative new services and open new revenue streams.

Turkey has been a pioneer when it comes to NFC: the commercial roll-out of Garanti Bank’s Bonus Trink NFC mobile payment and loyalty program last February (in partnership with AVEA) was a world first. Being first did however mean that Turkey has had to wait for everyone else to catch up, although we are now beginning to see a wave of NFC-enabled devices reach the market, and it may not be long before ‘wave and pay’ becomes the norm.

In the meantime, telecoms suppliers such as AVEA and Turkcell have been offering bridging technologies as an interim measure, and banks have also been getting on board by providing contactless stickers to easily turn existing devices into a contactless payment device. This helps Turkish smartphone users trial the benefits of NFC capabilities without having to do so by buying a new device.

Turkish phone companies have also developed important relationships with supermarkets, leading to multiple benefits including letting customers instantly find out about all the latest offers in store just by registering their phone at a kiosk when they enter.

2012 is likely to be a big year for NFC and the way we pay for and access services looks set to undergo the most dramatic change in years. It’s still early days, of course, but with the ground-breaking projects taking place in Turkey acting as a marker for the whole industry, customers and telecom providers can look forward to a far more convenient way of life.

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