Visa Approves microSDs for Use with Three Smartphones

Jan 7 2011

Visa has certified the iPhone and two other smartphones for use with microSD cards carrying its payWave application.

In what the card network said is the first time it has approved a contactless-mobile payment product, the microSD cards from U.S.-based DeviceFidelity are approved to work with the iPhone 4, 3GS and 3G models along with the Android-based Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S and BlackBerry Bold 9650. Visa said it expects to add more smartphone models to the list, including those based on the Symbian and Windows Phone operating systems.

The iPhone requires a case with a microSD card slot, also supplied by DeviceFidelity. The case includes a full-size contactless antenna. The microSD card with a tiny embedded antenna fits into built-in slots in the other smartphones, drawing extra power from the phones or booster coils in the back covers to complete the transactions.

The certification means the DeviceFidelity In2Pay cards with the particular handset models have passed Visa conformance testing for security and usability and will be available to Visa issuers under standard contract terms. The product had only been available to banks piloting the technology, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

Update: Dave Wentker, Visa Inc.'s head of mobile product development, told NFC Times that Visa did not ease the certification requirements for the microSD product in order to speed it to market. It had to meet the same certification criteria as full NFC or other contactless-mobile devices carrying payWave will. This includes the promise of a consistent experience for consumers for the In2Pay cards, no matter the phone the cards are inserted into.

"That (usability) was critical," Wentker said. "Security, of course, (and) reliability. Does it work consistently? Is it perceived intuitively, all things relative? Absolutely. We’ve been working flat out for so long." End update.

The list of approved devices, while still limited, includes three popular models or platforms. "That was part of what we were trying to do, pick ones that were widely sold and deployed," Wentker said. 

There have been some questions about whether the microSDs could pass Visa certification, including ensuring that consumers didn't have to tap the phones on particular parts of the point-of-sale readers or on different spots on the phones, according to the model. This was less in doubt for the iPhone because of the case with the full-size antenna that does not require the power boost from the phone or from an extra coil or antenna placed in the back cover of the handset. The iPhone with attachment is expected to be easier for consumers to understand how to tap on readers.

Update: But the Samsung Galaxy S does require what appears to be an extra coil or antenna that is attached inside the back cover of the phone as part of a sticker. This "passive-range extension label," as DeviceFidelity calls it, in effect amplifies the signal from the reader. Without it, users who tap the phone on readers to pay could have an inconsistent experience. According to the vendor, it developed the extension label to compensate for microSD slots surrounded by a lot of metal and point-of-sale readers with weak signals. End update.

Among the differences between the requirements for contactless-mobile devices and conventional payWave bank cards is that the mobile devices, including microSDs and passive stickers, only require a 2-centimeter read range, compared with 4 centimeters for conventional cards. Visa will have to approve NFC phones for use with payWave.

"In addition to issuing plastic magnetic stripe or chip-enabled payment cards, financial institutions can now consider offering their account holders a new technology that enables them to transform their existing phones into fully functional mobile payment devices," Bill Gajda, head of Visa Mobile, said in a statement.

Visa and big U.S. banks have been anxious for products that would enable them to introduce contactless-mobile payment without involving U.S. mobile operators–which are planning their own NFC-payment scheme, called Isis.

Update: But Wentker said that any looming threat from Isis is not what fueled Visa's work on the microSDs.

"There’s a place for this technology in the market," he told NFC Times. "Interest is very, very high."

Still, there are questions around the issuing model and distribute modes banks will use to get the microSDs into the phones of customers. There is also a need for more phone models to be certified, say observers.

Visa continues to work on full NFC phones, said Wentker. In addition, Visa's bank-owned affiliate, Visa Europe, is working on an iPhone attachment, iCarte, from Canada-based Wireless Fidelity. End update.

HEADLINE NEWS

Aussie Banking Group: Apple Holding Issuers ‘Hostage’ with Its Restrictive NFC Policies

Feb 13 2017

NFC TIMES Exclusive – A spokesman for four major Australian banks battling Apple for access to NFC technology on its iPhones shot back at Apple's latest filing with Australian competition officials, denying that the banks are trying to avoid paying fees to Apple to participate in the payments service, the spokesman told NFC Times.

Netcetera Acquires Longtime NFC Tech Supplier Nexperts, as It Seeks to Expand Multichannel Offer to European Banks

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Switzerland-based payments software company Netcetera acquired longtime NFC technology supplier Nexperts of Austria to deliver a multich

Apple Makes Apple Pay Launch in Taiwan Official; Global Use of Mobile Payments Service Rises

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Two years after launch, Apple says Apple Pay users carried out hundreds of millions of transactions worth billions of dollars during the fourth quarter, Apple CEO Tim Cook told financial analysts Thursday, although Apple still doesn’t release actual transaction figures.

Analysis: Why Rollouts of Payments Wearables Have Gotten Off to Slow Start

NFC TIMES Exclusive – The rollout of payments wearables is hitting a snag, with commercial and technical challenges holding back plans by industry players to enable consumers to buy wristbands, analog watches, rings and other wearables and then load them with their favorite debit and credit cards. (See table, challenge sections, below.)

Case Study: Czech Bank ČSOB Describes First-Mover HCE Launch; Questions Whether Visa and Mastercard are ‘Partners or Competitors’

NFC TIMES Exclusive – ČSOB, the Czech Republic’s No. 2 bank, faced challenges in launching the country’s first HCE-based wallet last year.

Analysis: Trends to Watch This Year in Tokenization, HCE, ‘Pays’ Wallets, Wearables and More

NFC Times Exclusive – The coming year will see the major networks continuing to dominate tokenization, even though at least a few more domestic payments schemes will begin tokenizing cards.

Major Taiwanese Banks Prepare for Launch of Apple Pay

NFC Times Exclusive –  At least six of Taiwan’s largest card issuers are lined up to participate in Apple Pay when it launches on the island nation, expected before the end of the first quarter, NFC Times has learned.

Analysis: STMicroelectronics Seeks to Stay Competitive in Payments Wearables Market with Provisioning Partnership

Jan 14 2017

NFC Times Exclusive Insight Chip maker STMicroelectronics has been gearing up to make a play for the payments wearables market, an initiative punctuated by its announcement last week that it is working with Germany-based Giesecke & Devrient and payments wearables technology start-up FitPay to streamline provisioning of card credentials on its embedded chips.

Deutsche Telekom Casts Doubt on Future of NFC SIMs, as It Quietly Closes Wallet in Germany

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Deutsche Telekom, one of the most important backers of SIM-based NFC through the years, now questions whether the technology could ever become a standard, as it quietly withdrew its little-used SIM-based NFC mobile wallet from the German market last week after more than two years.

Top 10 Misses: Wallet Take-Up, Bank Recruitment, Payments Wearables Rollouts Led List of Disappointments in Past Year

Jan 5 2017

NFC Times Exclusive – The rollout of digital payments, including services using NFC technology, are undoubtedly making progress, especially compared with just a few years ago.

More Chinese Smartphone Makers Enable NFC Transit Ticketing

NFC Times Exclusive – More Chinese OEMs have launched support for NFC transit ticketing, following earlier launches by Xiaomi and Huawei, NFC Times has learned, with at least five more device makers enabling service in one to two Chinese cities, or planning to do so.

Moscow Commuter Line Supports Open-Loop Fare Collection; Promotes Payments by Apple Pay

NFC Times Exclusive Insight - All stations on Moscow’s new commuter rail line, the Moscow Central Circle, or MCC, and some Moscow Metro stations linked with the new line, accept open-loop payments, including with Apple Pay, the Russian transit authority confirmed to NFC Times, adding that the authority is looking forward to accepting a range of other NFC-enabled wallets, including Samsung Pay.