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Taking the offering with a mobile app

"We want to be future-oriented and give people the opportunity," said Deacon Torunn Sørensen. FOTO: John Christian Nygaard

Taking the offering with a mobile app

Svalbard Church is probably the first church in the country accepting payments via mobile phone. About 70 percent of businesses in Longyearbyen are choosing to do the same.

"We want to be future-oriented and give people the opportunity," said Deacon Torunn Sørensen, explaining why the church is adopting the relatively new technology allowing people to pay via mobile phone.

The company Valyou – owned by DNB, SpareBank1 and Telenor – has developed an app enabling people to pay for goods and services by placing a mobile phone over the payment terminal instead of using bank cards. But whether it will be an immediate success at Svalbard Church remains to be seen.

Now it's probably only about people's generosity

"We have not yet had someone who paid with a mobile phone and there also haven't been any tourists who have asked to do so," Sørensen said. "It will probably not be a hit until more eventually put it into their phones."

But then it's going to be hard to claim a lack of cash during the offering?

"Yes, now it's probably only about people's generosity," Sørensen said with a laugh before adding the church has also stated accepting credit cards during the collection. 


Viktoria Erngard, Valyou's general manager, is obviously expressing optimism so many Svalbard businesses are accepting her company's payment method.

"It is exciting that we are beginning to get up in cities with good coverage, where it is possible to walk around with just a mobile phone and still be able to pay for things," said Erngard, citing Bodø as another example where the coverage of the service is starting to be good.

She said she also believes tourists will in the long term increasingly want to take advantage of such payments.

"We know that in countries such as England, France and Spain it has become more and more common to make use of such payment technology, and we know that there are very many international visitors to Svalbard," Erngard said.

Leif Terje Aunevik, head of the Svalbard Business Association, said he believes the development is entirely in line with what Longyearbyen should be.
"We have traditionally always been a place that's used to try out new technologies," he said.

Aunevik said he is convinced the relatively new technology allowing for payments via mobile phone is here to stay.

"I think mobiles will only become even more widely used for a variety of purposes in the future. We've probably just seen the beginning," said Aunevik, adding Svalbard must continue making use of new technology when it arrives.

"But at the same time it must not be as such that jobs are lost here as a result of technological development."

Few customers
Pharmacist Borghild Ø. Yttredal at Apotek 1 in Lompensenteret is among the Longyearbyen businesses adopting the new technology.

"There have been two customers who have chosen to use their mobile phones to pay with," said Yttredal, explaining there are far more people who use bank cards that function similarly.

Do she believe it will be a trend in the future?

"I have no idea, but it seems like a safe system to use. Here at the pharmacy there is the also some who are concerned about contamination and then it may feel nice to not have to enter a PIN code on the payment terminal, " Yttredal said with a smile.

Not yet accepting payments

Morten Helliksen, general manager at Svalbardbutikken, said the store's terminals support payment by mobile phone, but the system has not yet been adopted.

"We have not experienced any demand for making payments by mobile phone, but it is an opportunity that is there and can be used," said Helliksen, adding he believes there may be a great demand for mobile payments as the marketing of the technology increases in the future.

Translated by Mark Sabbatini


Se bildet større

Morten Helliksen, general manager at Svalbardbutikken, said the store's terminals support payment by mobile phone, but the system has not yet been adopted. FOTO: John Christian Nygaard


Valyou is an app where users can load a mobile version of their bank card, and pay for goods and services by holding the mobile phone next to the payment terminal.

The system was developed in a collaboration between Telenor and DNB. Valyou is owned by Telenor, DNB and SpareBank 1.

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