updated 10:25 am EST, Wed November 28, 2007
Nokia and O2 Wallet
Nokia and UK cell carrier O2 this morning announced a pilot run for O2 Wallet, a unique service that lets users pay for services just by approaching with their phone. Using a special version of the Nokia 6131 flip phone with NFC (near-field communications), owners can send payment automatically as though the phone were a virtual credit card or access pass, even while making a phone call or using data. Every trial member will have built-in access to London's Oyster service that lets them pay for rides on the Underground without requiring physical tickets. Some of these early members will also have preloaded Barclaycard credit cards that will let them pay at certain book stores and restaurants, Nokia adds.
Every user will further have access to "smart" posters around town that include hidden NFC tags: bringing the phone close automatically tells the phone to look for more information about the subject of the ad, such as sending a text message or receiving a hotlink to the company's product page.
The trial will initially revolve around 500 members taken from O2's London subscribers and will last from today until May of next year. Neither Nokia nor O2 has provided details of when the rest of O2 or other carriers could expect to see full-fledged service, although the feature is expected to grow beyond the limited-run 6131 phone. Nokia's system is technically compatible with some Japanese phones, such as those from Sony-Ericsson.