Bluetooth is accelerating mobile phone payment in the Nordic countries

Mobile payment with Bluetooth BLE

The world’s first SIM/SAM card with built-in Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology is fuelling contactless mobile phone payment growth at the point-of-sale (POS) in Nordic countries.

  • 60 000 units deployed to Nordic countries
  • Roll-out in Europe and new applications in Asia on the horizon
  • Built-in beacon capabilities enable in-store marketing

Upgrading existing payment terminals
Suppliers of POS terminals are turning to the Norwegian company AblePay Technologies, the world’s leading provider of BLE payment technology, for a quick and easy way to enable mobile phone payment using existing infrastructure. The Norwegian company has developed a SAM card with built-in Bluetooth technology which quickly upgrades existing payment terminals to support Bluetooth based mobile phone payment. The SAM card is available in any traditional SIM card formats.

“60 000 units have so far been deployed across the Nordic countries,” says CEO Rune Bjerke. “Worldwide, 75 million payment terminals do not currently support the different types of mobile phone payment, so we strongly believe there is a demand for a widespread adoption of BLE.”  

Existing payment terminals typically have a card slot for SIM/SAM but no embedded Bluetooth LE. The new card, which has been named BlueSIM, utilises BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).

“As opposed to traditional Bluetooth technology, BLE uses significantly less power and, crucially, does not require setup and pairing. BlueSIM can be easily retrofitted into the existing infrastructure of Point of Sale terminals, at a fraction of the cost of replacing the terminal,” says inventor and CTO Steinar Brede.

Instalment is done in a few minutes and requires no additional external components. The SAM card is completely platform independent; in other words, it is suitable for all types of mobile phones and mobile payment apps. Customers use the BLE functionality in their smartphones and an app to make the purchase.

A key factor in consumer adoption of BLE payment is POS support. BlueSIM is offered in a SIM card form factor and is easily deployed into a POS terminal. AblePay has chosen Nordic Semiconductor, the largest BLE manufacturer, as a radio supplier, ensuring that customers are offered world class technology and the ability to provide large volumes. Both companies are based in Trondheim, the tech capitol of Norway, and this has has paved the way for a differentiated and highly integrated product in BlueSIM.

Rune Bjerke left Steinar Brede right

“As consumers increasingly demand smartphone-based payment options, Bluetooth Low Energy technology will have an important role to play in future retail contactless payment solutions,” says Geir Langeland, Director of Sales & Marketing with Nordic Semiconductor. “The early success of AblePay Technologies’ BlueSIM smartcard is evidence of this, cleverly employing Nordic’s class-leading nRF52832 SoC to not only enable contactless Bluetooth Low Energy payments, but also vendor benefits such as retail loyalty programs and in-store beacon advertising.”

Enabling marketing and loyality programmes
In retail, the mobile phone is expected to become an important tool, not only for transactions. Utilising the functionality of the Bluetooth standard to its full potential, retailers can, through its beacon capabilities, communicate with customers on a broader level. This opens up a host of possibilities.

Steinar Brede centre Rune Bjerke right

“Retailers can add value with targeted marketing, for instance special offers based on previous preferences and shopping patterns,” says Rune Bjerke. “Loyalty and bonus programmes are easily integrated. Coupons can be used and receipts transferred directly to the customers’ mobile phones, and paired with the loyalty and reward program.”

Verifone, one of the world’s leading payment technology companies, has in a recently published White Paper documented the benefits of BLE in the retail sector. The company sees BLE as an important component in tomorrow’s payments solutions, thanks to its ability to pair payment technology and loyalty programmes seamlessly in the same solution. 

Mobile phones transformed into contactless payment terminals
The Nordic countries are pioneering the transition to a cashless society, with cash only being used in 5% of transactions. In Asia, the opposite is the case; for example, in India 97% of all retail transactions are cash-based.

AblePay Technologies’ new SIM-card transforms a standard mobile phone to a secure payment terminal, enabling the use of mobile phones as POS terminals in unbanked markets.

“Our solution provides high levels of security with built-in authentication. BlueSIM can upgrade any mobile phone – not only smartphones – to a standardized and secure payment terminal through Bluetooth,” says Steinar Brede, highlighting that customers also can use any type of mobile phone with Bluetooth LE. 

“This provides telecommunication companies with the opportunity to quickly roll out the necessary infrastructure for mobile phone payment in Asia. This is why we firmly believe BLE can serve as a key enabler in the shift towards a cashless society in unbanked markets,” says CEO Rune Bjerke.

About AblePay Technologies

  • AblePay Technologies is the leading provider of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) payment technology.
  • The company has developed the world’s first SIM/SAM-card technology with built-in BLE to enable mobile phone payment and related services.
  • AblePay was established in 2009 as a spin-off from the research department at Telenor.
  • The technology has been developed in close cooperation with SINTEF, one of Europe’s leading technology institutes.
  • Its development centre is in Trondheim, Norway. Manufacturing is outsourced locally with current volume capacity at 100 000 units per month.

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