The system uses Verifone's mWallet services and NFC-enabled payment terminals and enables Digicel Tonga subscribers to pay for goods and services with a tap of their phone at 50 merchants in the capital of Nuku'alofa. Digicel and Verifone say that they plan to make the service available throughout Tonga.
According to Digicel, "Many Tongans are unbanked and credit card penetration is extremely low. In addition, an NFC capable smart phone is a luxury item for people in a country where many families have a dependence on International Remittances from New Zealand, Australia and the USA."
The new service follows the introduction by Digicel late last year of international money transfers directly to Mobile Wallets. Families in New Zealand can send money online directly to Digicel subscribers' mobiles in the Pacific for "much lower cost than established operators, such as banks and traditional money transfer operators," Digicel say.
According to a 2011 World Bank report, remittance payments constitute more than 30 percent of the Tongan GDP, placing it the second in the world for dependence on remittances.
Darren McLean, commercial director of Digicel Pacific, said: "We believe the level of convenience, lower cost and easy authentication provided by Digicel and VeriFone can transform the way our customers receive, manage and spend their money in this region...We think this will open the way to making Mobile Money the everyday means of payment in our Pacific markets -- from groceries, airtime top-up and utility bills, through to wages and government payments."
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