Banks look to new mobile technologies to spruce up their services
A new wave of mobile technologies, like the Czech National Bank’s “Money” application, above, is facilitating local customer payments via payments via smart-phone and tablet apps..
As Prague becomes ever more accustomed to the sight of iPads, iPhones and other similar gadgets in the hands of its inhabitants, Komerční banka (KB) has released an application aspiring to render traditional credit-card payments redundant.
The iKarta, designed for users of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, facilitates contactless payments at all Point of Sale (POS) terminals that currently accept the app. Using a Wireless Dynamics add-on accessory, customers are able to pay for their goods with a simple swipe of their phone. For payments of less than 500 Kč, the app’s users don’t even need to bother entering their PIN code.
Highlighting KB’s primacy as the only bank in the Czech Republic offering such a service, the bank’s head of communication, Monika Klucová, was keen to stress the app’s technological prowess.
“The popularity of the contactless payment technology is rapidly rising, mainly thanks to the speed and convenience of payments and also the option of integrating the technology into other carriers than the conventional card,” she said.
POS terminals for the app currently exist in Globus hypermarkets, Freshbar Mangaloo bars and Paul bakeries, but their numbers are expected to grow.
“All terminals that KB currently offers its new partners who accept cards are contactless,” Klucová said.
In order to quash any security concerns customers might have regarding the app, particularly its use without entering a PIN for small payments, KB recommends that customers ensure their phone is locked by a keypad password that must be entered before it can be used. The bank also monitors the contactless transactions for “suspicious behavior.”
While currently the frontrunner in the race to app prowess, KB isn’t the only bank in the country with such technologically fueled aspirations. In February, Česká spořitelna (ČS), the country’s largest bank in customer numbers, launched the SERVIS 24 Mobile Bank app, which allows users of devices running on iOS to control their finances via their mobile phone. The bank has plans to release a contactless payment app within the next few months.
“ČS has launched the second test stage of the Mobile Payment Card application, which makes it possible for the owners of iPhone 4/4S mobile phones to pay for their purchases in a contactless manner,” said spokesman Petr Podzimek. “This payment method will bring users increased comfort when paying for goods and services.”
The banks’ initiatives follow a string of app releases within the Czech Republic from various state organizations. Prague’s public transit operator DPP recently updated its Prague Trips app, which allows users to plan their journey using public transit system while their iPhone is in either online or offline mode. Czech Post has a similar app that allows the tracking of parcels and the location of the nearest post office.
The Czech National Bank also has a mobile “Money” app on offer in both Czech and English, allowing users to inspect the security features of national currency.
With the recent release of apps in these various different designs, it seems Czech organizations – both public and private – are keen to harness their potential.
“According to our numbers, more and more people are familiar with contactless payment cards,” Podzimek said. “We assume the popularity of both methods – contactless payment cards and mobile apps for contactless payments – will continue to increase.”