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Alfa Bank Receives Visa PayWave Certification

Alfa-Bank has received Russia's first certification for Visa Inc.’s payWave contactless-payment platform for credit and debit cards.

The issuer is using the payWave function in its classic, gold, platinum and platinum black credit cards and in its debit cards, but not cobranded or customized cards, according to the bank. Each card includes both the contactless chip and the traditional magnetic stripe and is issued for a period of three years.

Consumers may use the cards for instant payments with no signature or PIN required for purchases of less than 1,000 rubles (US$32 or 24 euros).

The Moscow-based bank deployed technology from payment-technology vendor BPC Banking Technologies, based in the Netherlands.

The implementation of BPC’s SmartIssuer, part of the SmartVista suite, took three months to complete, BPC announced Oct. 31. It supports application processing, cardholder servicing and, in conjunction with SmartPro, card personalization and production for all card types, including EMV, the company says.

Various banks had earlier plans to offer payWave and MasterCard PayPass cards, but the recent banking crisis caused a shift in priorities, says Richard Phillimore, BPC Banking Technologies executive vice president.

“All the banks believe there is a significant opportunity in this market to extend and improve customer service through the use of this technology,” he tells PaymentsSource. “As with every new card-payment medium, issuing and acquiring goes hand in hand. The NFC acquiring market in Russia is very much in its formative stage.”

However, there has been progress, such as the recent announcement between Mobile TeleSystems, Russia's biggest mobile phone provider, and MasterCard (see story).

In fact, MasterCard's PayPass has a significant head start over Visa's payWave in Russia. Alfa-Bank, Moscow Industrial Bank, Petrocommerts Bank, Raiffeisenbank and Russian Standard Bank all already issue PayPass-enabled MasterCards, according to MasterCard spokesperson Elena Prorokova.

Phillimore would not say when the payWave-enabled cards and terminals would be available to Alfa-Bank cardholders and merchants.

As of deadline, Alfa-Bank did not respond to requests for comment.

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