Orange to deploy new generation SIM cards and handsets for contactless services

Orange have announced that it will deploy a new generation of SIM cards and handsets to facilitate the development of mobile contactless services. These services streamline transactions, enabling users to validate transport tickets, pay for concerts or make purchases in local shops simply by swiping their phone over an electronic reader. Coupled with mobile applications, mobile contactless services can also give users information such as transport timetables, opening hours or directions. 

Announced at a meeting with mobile handset manufacturers held in Paris on December 15, the new SIM cards will be introduced for post-paid offers in most of the Group’s European operations from the second half of 2011. The Group is also working with manufacturers to ensure that over half of new smartphone models it buys will be compatible with contactless services when combined with the new, secure SIM card. Orange has also announced its ambition to equip at least 500,000 of its customers in France with compatible handsets by the end of 2011.

Orange is the first European operator to make such a clear commitment to the development of mobile contactless services. These are expected to radically change the telecommunications industry in the years to come. By introducing the necessary technology on such a wide scale, Orange will enable a maximum number of its customers to benefit quickly and easily as new services are deployed in each country.

“The smartphone revolution has changed the way people organize their daily lives. People today are constantly connected and constantly on the move. We are seizing the opportunity this creates to make everyday transactions simple,” said Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom–Orange. “Our commitment to contactless services will benefit customers, giving them a seamless, convenient and secure way to validate transport or make payments.  To make it a reality for our customers, Orange is working with other operators, banks, retailers, transport and service providers to create an eco-system which will stimulate the development of services adapted to everyone’s needs.”

This announcement follows the Cityzi commercial pilot running since May 2010 in Nice, France. This has already attracted close to 3,000 customers, and is conducted in partnership with the AFSCM (Association Française du Sans Contact Mobile), which brings together Orange, SFR, Bouygues and NRJ Mobile. Other partners in the Cityzi project include various international standard bodies, governmental authorities, working groups and service providers.

The Cityzi service will be launched commercially across France in 2011, making it one of the world’s first mass-market commercial contactless services. The “Player One Cityzi” handset will be sold across France from January, and further handset models will follow from the spring. Orange aims to equip at least 500,000 of its French customers with compatible devices by the end of 2011.

You can see a small interview we did with Orange about the Cityzi project in Nice here

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