Mobile Trade Group Calls for More NFC Standards

Mobile trade group the GSMA today announced that major mobile operators "have voiced their commitment" to launch NFC and called for more standards to ensure interoperability of NFC services.

The announcement comes after last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which was organized by the GSMA, or GSM Association. At the large trade fair, handset makers said they were gearing up to introduce NFC phones this year and a couple of telcos made announcements of rollout plans.

The trade group, the largest worldwide representing mobile operators, said in its release today that it would also develop its own "certification and testing standards" to promote interoperability. The association is promoting the SIM, which its member mobile operators issue, as the premier secure element in NFC phones to store payment, ticketing and other secure applications.

"This interoperability is critical to the widespread adoption of NFC, enabling users to benefit from NFC services around the world, regardless of operator network or device type," said the trade group in a statement today.

It’s not clear, however, whether the association is considering launching its own certification scheme to approve SIM cards and NFC phones for use by member operators. A GSMA source told NFC Times that the group was exploring options, but that the association wanted standards to apply to both NFC phones and SIM cards. A certification or standards regime could start on a country-by-country basis, said the source.

But any new standards from the GSMA could conflict with a certification program launched by the NFC Forum late last year for NFC phones and other products. In addition, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute sets standards for SIM cards, including NFC-enabled SIMs, while GlobalPlatform has been writing specifications for how applications will be stored and downloaded on the secure element on SIM cards and other secure chips in phones.

Many of the NFC-enabled smartphones that will be introduced by handset makers starting this year will carry embedded secure chips that could host applications not in the control of operators. That could create tension between telcos and handset and mobile platform suppliers since many of the GSMA mobile operators are pinning their business cases for NFC on controlling the secure elements in NFC phones. That is why they want the SIM to be the de facto secure element.

Most of the NFC phones carrying embedded chips are also expected to support NFC applications on SIM cards, but this creates other potential problems, say telcos.

For example, Anne Bouverot, executive vice president for mobile services for France Telecom-Orange, warned last week at an NFC session at the Mobile World Congress that applications stored both on SIM cards and embedded chips in NFC phones could cause fragmentation, so that customers wouldn’t know whom to call in case of a problem with their services.

But the GSMA sees other looming interoperability problems for SIM-based NFC services.

For example, an M-Ticketing white paper the association released this month identified several challenges for ticketing on NFC phones using SIM cards. They include lack of standards regulating the strength of contactless transit readers to enable NFC phones to work in battery-off mode.

There are also no standards for provisioning ticketing applications on SIMs or for the over-the-air downloads of tickets. And licensing of transit technology, such as Mifare, is in the hands of private companies, such as Mifare owner NXP Semiconductors, with no standards governing the availability of the technology, said the report. This could increase costs for operators that order NFC-enabled SIMs, said a GSMA source.

The potential for mobile commerce is huge, noted the GSMA in its press release today, citing an analyst report forecasting tens of billions of euros worth of payment transactions alone on NFC phones by 2015. The association said that many of the world's leading operators were behind NFC and would launch services by 2012, at least in selected markets.

They include such telcos as Orange, Spain-based Telefónica, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and South Korean telcos SK Telecom and KT Corp., all of which have already have made their intentions to launch NFC clear.

But the GSMA list also includes mobile operators or groups in developing countries or regions, such as China Unicom, América Móvil of Latin America, MTS of Russia and India’s Bharti Airtel.

The other mobile operators on the association’s list are UK-based Vodafone, Norway-based Telenor, Telecom Italia of Italy, Softbank Mobile of Japan, Telekom Austria Group and Qatar's Qtel Group.

HEADLINE NEWS

Lax Security Blamed for Hack of 7-Eleven’s Mobile Payments Service in Japan

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Japan’s popular 7-Eleven convenience store chain reported Thursday a major hack of its QR code-based mobile-payments app, but the breach appears to be due to poorly designed security protections in the app. 

In-Depth: More Nordic Banks Support Payments on Passive Wearables with Provisioning after Sale

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Two more large Nordic banks, Nordea and Swedbank, have launched contactless payments on analog watches, using technology from Swedish provisioning company Fidesmo that enables consumers to buy the watches and provision them with tokenized Mastercard-branded cards after the sale by tapping the watches on Android NFC phones.

Insight: Apple Pay’s Expansion to 13 New European Countries Won’t Add Much Transaction Volume but Follows Familiar Strategy

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple’s expansion this week into 13 new European countries may not look so good on paper, but it follows a divide-and-conquer strategy that Apple has used effectively before.

Visa Deepens Push into Tokenization with Planned Acquisition of Rambus Payments and Ticketing Unit

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Visa plans to buy the payments and ticketing unit of U.S.-based chip company Rambus for $75 million, as the payments network seeks to expand tokenization beyond Visa cards, including to bank accounts used for real-time payments, as well as to transactions processed by domestic networks.

With Contactless Payments Ready to Take Off in U.S., Payments Trade Group Concerned ‘Fragmented POS Experience’ Could Hinder Growth

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While contactless payments in the U.S. is “expected to accelerate in the near future,” merchants and issuers must improve the “POS experience” for consumers, the U.S. Payments Forum, a payments industry trade group, said today.

Melbourne Transit Agency Touts Successful Launch of Closed-Loop Payments with Google Pay; Plans to Add Support with Apple Pay

Jun 17 2019

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Following a successful launch of its closed-loop Mifare-based transit payments service, myki, with Google Pay, Melbourne, Australia, transit authority Public Transport Victoria has allocated AU$1 million to expand the service onto other smartphone platforms, including iOS and the iPhone, an agency spokeswoman confirmed to NFC Times.

Analysis: BBVA’s ‘Global Payment Platform' Unlikely to Make Much Impact

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The recent announcement by large Spain-based banking group BBVA of plans to enable more banks across its footprint in Latin America to roll out the NFC-enabled BBVA Wallet as part of their banking apps could run into problems, given trends for low take-up of bank-issued NFC wallets. 

In North America, Many Cities Not Ready for Open-Loop Payments

May 31 2019

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While open-loop transit payments services, such as one being launched this week by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, get most of the attention, most public transit agencies and operators do not plan to accept credit and debit cards directly for payment of fares anytime soon.

Visa and Chase Seize on Launch of New York City Transit Payments Service to Try to Build ‘Momentum’ for Contactless

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Unlike in most developed countries in Europe and Asia, in the U.S., only a small percentage of the population regularly uses mass transit. But New York City is an exception, with more than 4 billion transit trips per year in the metropolitan area–seven times greater than in the next largest U.S. city in terms of transit use, Chicago.

As Their Resistance Crumbles, Australia’s Big Four Banks have Found that Opposing Apple Pay Too Costly, Despite Tech Giant’s Fees

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Another one of Australia’s big four banks, National Australia Bank, has given in to pressure from customers and has agreed to support Apple Pay.

In-Depth: Ticketmaster Embraces Digital Ticketing to Cut Fraud and Improve Communication with Ticket Purchasers and Fans

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based sports and entertainment ticketing vendor Ticketmaster sees its new digital-ticketing technology–supporting bar codes and NFC–as a way to reduce fraud and stay in touch with both ticket purchasers and event attendees.

Japanese Payments Players Expand Support for QR Code-Based Payments

May 20 2019

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Japan’s mobile payments market is expanding, but the talk is not about NFC payments services, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or the pioneering FeliCa wallet services originally pushed by NTT DoCoMo and rail operator JR East.