Friday, 15 July 2011

Africa to Get Its First NFC Mobile Payments

The Tanzanian telecommunication company Zantel will be launching what it claims to be Africa's first commercial Near-Field Communication (NFC) payments functionality. Zantel is a unit of UAE-based Etisalat.

The company said the "Touch and Pay service will enable customers to make payments at merchants by tapping handsets containing NFC SIMs from Oberthur at MasterCard PayPass-equipped terminals".

Zantel payments service can be used by the country's street merchants because of faster transactions ability and affordability of POS devices. Zantel has developed its NFC-based payments system based on its earlier zPesa mobile money system, used by Tanzanians for Person-To-Person cash transfers, bill payments and banking services.

UAE-based Etisalat commented that the Tanzania roll-out is just the beginning of its plan to start NFC-based payments system in countries such as the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

International Payment Card Fraudsters Network Dismantled

The key figures behind an organised crime group, suspected of defrauding thousands of EU citizens and copying more than 15,000 payment cards in a sophisticated cyber scam, have been arrested in a major police operation coordinated by the Europol. It is estimated that the group have clocked up over 50 million euros in damages for EU citizens by 'skimming' or cloning their credit cards and emptying the bank accounts.

Following an extensive investigation over many months and supported by Europol's analysis and other operational services, a major police operation began on 6 July 2011 to catch the members of one of the largest criminal gangs known to have been active in this field in the last 5 years.

Codenamed 'Operation Night Clone', simultaneous arrest operations were mounted in Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Poland and USA, involving over 200 police officers. The focus of the operation was Bulgaria, where 150 police officers participated in operations to arrest 47 suspects. Nine more were arrested in Italy, 2 in USA, 2 in Spain and 1 in Poland. In the days following these arrests new leads have been identified and are currently the subject of follow-up police work in three more countries. This is likely to lead to further arrests in the future.

Europol has supported and coordinated Operation Night Clone since November 2010, following work led by the Italian Polizia Postale. On the day of action, 6 July, Europol's Operational Centre, at its new headquarters in The Hague, was manned by representatives from Bulgaria, Italy and the US Secret Service, in addition to Europol specialists. They were even in direct contact with those leading the operation in Bulgaria, where 2 Europol officers were also present with the Europol mobile office so that intelligence could be quickly exchanged via a secure line.

The suspected leading figures of the group, based in Bulgaria, are among those arrested. They are linked to criminal cells in Kenya, South Africa and in the US. The group's methods included recruiting and training petty criminals to make illegal cash withdrawals.

Orange to Hire Groupwide TSM for NFC in Europe

France Telecommunication Orange Group will be hiring Groupwide TSM as a trusted service manager, to focus first on the mobile markets in Poland, Spain and Romania, NFC Times reports.

"Orange sees the 3 countries as the "first potential" markets for NFC rollouts", according to a document obtained by NFC Times. Orange is looking for the completion of new groupwide TSM platform by the first quarter of 2012.

France Telecom is one of Europe's largest mobile operator groups, with presence in 13 European countries. Overall, the group operates in more than 30 countries, with a total of more than 200 million mobile subscribers worldwide. The TSM contract is said to cover the African, Middle Eastern and Asian markets as well, though there are apparently no plans to launch NFC outside of Europe in the near future.

Orange issued a request for proposal for the TSM Tuesday, seeking a vendor to manage applications on Orange NFC phones. The vendor would work with other TSMs from service providers such as banks, SIM suppliers and other vendors.

Calling the TSM role as the "NSM" or NFC service manager, Orange wants the vendor to build an interoperable platform with those of other TSMs working in the same markets, along with suppliers of SIM cards.

Alibaba and Western Union to Offer Cash Payment Service

Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba has joined hands with the global payment services provider Western Union to let users of AliExpress e-commerce platform buy goods and services on the internet by making cash payments at Western Union agent branches.

The new payment service will allow registered customers to place their orders directly through and pay cash at Western Union Agent locations across over 160 countries and territories.

Funds paid via the Western Union Quick Pay service will be automatically displayed to the seller which will signal for the goods to be shipped to the buyer. The cash payment service is developed basically for the under-served markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, where merchants have limited payment options and mostly have to rely on cash transactions.

TSMC replaces Samsung in making Apple Mobile Chips

Taiwan's TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited) has started a trial manufacturing of the next generation of Apple A6 chips, a source familiar with Apple Inc. said. The iPad maker is said to be replacing its traditional chip supplier Samsung Electronics with TSMC.

Whether TSMC would get actual orders for the smartphone chips would depend on its yield rate or the amount of chips per batch that come out with no defects, according to the source.

Samsung is the sole supplier of the A5 chips used in the iPad 2, but Apple has hinted it is keen to change its supply chain from the Korean company Samsung. Samsung has emerged to be a tough Apple rival in the smartphone and tablet market and is involved in an acrimonious legal battle with Apple over several patents.

TSMC spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun, however, did not comment on this issue or on the market rumours. Apple was also not available for comment and even a Samsung spokesman declined to comment.

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