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

OTI Takes Steps to Reach Profitability, But Remains Mum on Guidance

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – On Track Innovations CEO Shlomi Cohen sought to reassure investors that the company he took over nine months ago is more competitive and is moving toward profitability, though he declines to predict when it will turn its first yearly profit since its founding in 1990.

Apple Breaks Resistance of Big Five Banks in Canada; Debit Scheme Interac among TSPs to Tokenize Cards

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Apple has cracked the big five banks in Canada, with two of the country’s largest banks, including Royal Bank of Canada, today announcing they are participating in Apple Pay, with the three others to follow.

Officials Seek to Welcome Apple Pay and Other ‘Pays’ to Taiwan; but Call on Visa to Create Level Playing Field for TSPs

May 6 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – The issue over availability of tokenization services and whether the major global networks, such as Visa, are allowing for a level playing field among token service providers has reached Taiwanwith a former prime minister and chief banking regulator weighing in on the topic–as Taiwanese officials decide how best to expedite the arrival of such mobile payments services as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay.

NXP Semiconductors CEO Still Sees Transit Fare Collection as Main NFC Growth Engine in China

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Despite providing the NFC technology for three “OEM Pays” that have launched in China or which are scheduled to do so, NXP Semiconductors CEO Richard Clemmer still says he sees transit fare collection as the main opportunity going forward for the chip maker’s NFC technology in China.

Yandex.Money Uses HCE to Enable NFC Payments in Russia

NFC Times Exclusive insight – Yandex.Money, sometimes called the “Russian PayPal,” is using host card emulation for its new NFC-enabled payments service, a Yandex.Money representative told NFC Times. PayPal earlier told NFC Times it also plans to use HCE for its app in the U.S.

Networks Continue to Dominate Tokenization as Vendors Wait for Token Service Provider Specs

May 10 2016

NFC Times Exclusive – More than two years after EMVCo released its tokenization guidelines, there are still few token service providers operating besides those of the major payments networks, and there are no specifications yet from top networks Visa and MasterCard to help vendors to tokenize cards supporting their brands.

ANZ Launches with Apple Pay, as Apple Picks Off One of Big Four Australian Banks

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – ANZ is the first bank in Australia to launch with Apple Pay, with Apple able to crack into the big four banks, which had been balking at signing up for the payments service mainly because of Apple’s demands for transaction fees.

Xiaomi Announces Plans to Join Crowded ‘Pays’ Club, but Offers Few Details on Launch, Issuers

Apr 27 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is the latest OEM to announce plans to join the “Pays” club, working with payments network China UnionPay to launch an NFC-enabled mobile payments service in China, although giving no details on a launch date or participating banks.

SIMalliance Reports NFC SIM Shipments were ‘Static’ in 2015 but Refuses to Release Global Figures

NFC Times Exclusive Insight –  It is perhaps a measure of just how big of a hit SIM suppliers took from the closing of the Softcard wallet in the U.S. early last year that their SIMalliance vendor trade group is refusing to release NFC SIM shipment figures publicly for either the North American market or globally for 2015.

Three Major Singaporean Banks Agree to Support Apple Pay; Samsung Follows

Apr 20 2016

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Three of Singapore’s largest banks will soon launch mobile payments with Apple Pay, Apple disclosed Tuesday, as it launched Apple Pay in its sixth country.

Many U.S. Merchants Continue to Balk at Accepting NFC Wallets; One Reason: Suspicions that Wallet Providers Could Get Their Data

NFC Times Exclusive – Few industry sources agree on the size of the contactless-acceptance footprint in the U.S. that enables merchants to accept Apple Pay and other NFC-enabled wallets; but one thing most of them do agree on is that contactless acceptance is not sufficient to support any kind of significant adoption of the wallets.

Restructuring Helps G&D Turn Around Financial Results from Gloomy 2014

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Germany-based Giesecke & Devrient turned around its financial results in 2015, including its money-losing banking and SIM card unit, thanks mainly to restructuring and higher shipments of EMV bank cards to China and the U.S., the privately held company disclosed Tuesday.