Italy’s SIA to launch mobile payments system

Italian payments system technology and services SIA expects its contactless mobile phone payment system to be launched on its home market in early 2014

CEO Massimo Arrighetti (pictured) has talked to Reuters about the plan to launch mobile payments in Italy in 2014 and to replciate the format in other European countries.

“We take it for granted that 80% of smartphones and all shops will be equipped with the necessary technology in one or two years,” he said.

As a result of a study commissioned by SIA, research firm ISPO said that 94% of Italians liked the idea of contactless mobile payments for their speed and practicality and the fact that no cash or bank cards are needed as virtual cards are instead downloaded onto the phone using a special SIA app.

The platform – like the mobile payments system – is based on NFC (near field communication) technology.

Unlike early mobile payment deals, which involved one-to-one arrangements between single banks and telecom companies, SIA’s mobile system has an open architecture and allows users to keep using the service even if they change bank or telecom provider.
“Our solution allows users to change bank without an interruption of service. This is why we think it is a winning card,” Arrighetti told Reuters.

SIA, whose technology managed €9.2bn payments and €23.7bn trading operations in 2012, saw revenues rising 4.5% to €348m last year with core profits up 36% to almost €65m.

SIA’s mobile phone payment system has already been adopted by four mid-sized Italian lenders and by mobile network operators Vodafone, Vimpelcom’s Wind and Hutchison Whampoa’s Tre Italia, according to Reuters.

“Italy must go digital and there is no doubt that the country has all the skills necessary to  achieve this goal,”  Arerighetti said at the end of a  round table session in Milan.

“The spreading of payment tools other than cash requires the  expansion of the acceptance network in order to cover all the points of contact with
citizens, public sector included. The priorities set out in the Italian Digital Agenda represent  the prerequisites to drive this process further,” he concluded.

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