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December 15, 2005

Atlanta Sports Fans Test Cell Phone Payment Service

Courtesy of TechWeb News

Pro sports fans in Atlanta are testing mobile applications supported by short-range Near Field Communications (NFC) technologies that allow them to make purchases and download mobile content with the Nokia 3220 cellular phone.

The NFC chip developed by Philips Semiconductor is embedded into a shell, or face plate, that snaps onto the cellular phone. "There are two primary chips in the shell, and those are the NFC modem that transmits the information and the secure chip that stores the credit card information," said Tom Zalewski, head of payments and ticking at Nokia. "The handset will function on a cellular and payment network, and the handsets will be purchased and issues by the carrier."

During the test the technology will remain in the snap-on face plate, but Nokia has plans to integrate the technology into the phone. Approximately 300 Hawks and Thrashers season ticket holders will trial the NFC technology beginning in January through the end of the baseball and hockey season. The Atlanta Thrashers and Hawks season ticket holders with Chase-issued Visa credit accounts and Cingular Wireless accounts can make wireless payments at concession stands and access mobile content from numerous locations throughout the arena.

Consumers can purchase merchandise, food and tickets by holding the Nokia mobile phone equipped with Philips' NFC semiconductor chips and ViVOtech software near a terminal. The transactions are charged to a credit card using account information stored in the mobile phone. The device will operate on a short 2 to 3 centimeter read range and the encryption is managed through the issuing credit card banks. "Ultimately, we see the banks provisioning the phone wirelessly," Zalewski said. "NFC technology is backward compatible with 80% of the contactless solutions such as radio frequency identification technology. "

Atlanta Thrashers and Hawks fans also can access and download mobile content such as ringtones, wallpapers, screensavers, and clips from favorite players and artists by holding their NFC-enabled phone in front of a poster embedded with an NFC tag.

By 2010, more than 50 percent of all mobile handsets will incorporate NFC chips to enable short-range transactions, ABI Research estimates.

Approximately 150 contactless, or wireless, point of sale (POS) readers have been deployed by ViVOtech throughout Philips Arena. For mobile content downloads, Cingular Wireless will be the carrier that enables these services to communicate over the digital wireless network.

The NFC forum founded in 2004 by Nokia, Philips Semiconductors and Sony, now has more than 60 member companies from Microsoft to Texas Instruments. The group is driving standardization for the platform.

Participating in the project are Chase, Cingular Wireless, Nokia, Philips, Visa USA and ViVOtech, along with Atlanta Spirit LLC, the parent company of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena.

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