NFC has been 'long and painful process'

Joseph Waring
20 Mar 2014

SIMalliance general secretary Herve Pierre made a call to mobile operators to accelerate NFC infrastructure developments. “Please help defragment the market by being more cooperative and open -- with each other and with NFC service providers for SE (Secure Element) access and to encourage more partnership applications.”

Speaking yesterday at Cartes Secure Connexions Asia in Hong Kong, Pierre said the industry needs to see more initiatives like Isis in the US, which has been very good.

For NFC service providers, he said there is something that's ready to go, that is certified and ubiquitous, and MNO support for the infrastructure is huge.

He explained that developing the NFC ecosystem has involved the complexity of working toward both a mobile standard and an trade agreement in the highly regulated banking industry. “It’s been a long and painful process.”

He said that Host Card Emulation (HCE) is risky – “the business models are still unclear, it’s uncertified and there are backward compatibility problems.” It also adds new fragmentation at the device level, with different versions of Android and multiple OSs in the market.

“HCE is good for the NFC ecosystem in terms of educating users and driving wider adoption. But it will take years. The technology is immature and not standardized. And it won’t work with current infrastructure.”

He called for segmenting the mobile payments market in the short term. “NFC can be used for certain things right now, and that should move ahead, while HCE can be used for others.”

With NFC designed to handle multiple services such as retail purchases and transport, he said interoperability is always a key issue. Another issue is the lifetime of a card when it functions as both a SIM and bank card, which have a limited lifespan. And from a privacy point of view, he asked who will have access to the data from a consumer’s transactions and be able to sell them? Roaming is also a big issue.

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