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Lloyds TSB signs up to Olympic Phone pay-by-wave plan

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Samsung and Visa have signed up Lloyds TSB to back NFC payments made at the Olympics, on the special-edition Olympic phone, but still need an operator to complete the set.

The two Olympic sponsors announced in April that they would be offering an Olympic-branded handset to athletes attending the games, and for sale to fans.

They also said that the handset would feature proximity payments using Near Field Communications, but not who would be backing that scheme - now NFC World tells us that Lloyds TSB is the backer, but the team still needs an operator to host the service.

The network operator is essential as Visa is committed to having the NFC secure element reside in the SIM card, and that can't be done without an operator's approval. The problem is that aren't any network operators sponsoring the games, so no obvious candidate to provide the chips.

Lloyds TSB is an "Official Partner" of London 2012, one rank below the "Worldwide Partner" status enjoyed by Samsung and Visa, which makes it an acceptable choice to provide the backing. It also provides an opportunity for the bank to launch its own pre-payment banking scheme, as well as getting some publicity for its proximity-payment cards.

Pre-payment banking is all the rage these days: one charges up a proximity-payment card (for a small fee) and waves it near readers to pay for coffee, travel on the tube and so forth. Lloyds will be testing its own pre-payment system in the next few months, with a full commercial launch by the end of the year.

But that's for cards - integrating the payment system into a mobile phone needs a network operator to get involved. If that network operator refuses to stump up for Olympic sponsorship then don't expect to see the name featuring very prominently. Even with Visa, Samsung and Lloyds TSB involved, it will be the operator they're tied to that potential customers will want to know. ®

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