In order to encourage the dissemination of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, and ultimately mobile contactless payments (MCP), loyalty schemes and the like, the French-owned Orange mobile phone company is rolling out NFC-enabled SIMs to its 27 million customers in its home country.
The mobile telecoms giant is working with Gemalto on the UpTeq NFC SIMs and the security and infrastructure build-out in France and says it is aiming for the same level of security as chip-based payment cards. The over the air (OTA) provision of authentication after issuance is eminently possible.
According to Orange the French ‘national NFC infrastructure’ will make it easy for retailers, banks, train and bus companies and others to join in and offer MCP payments, loyalty schemes and other NFC-based transactions via Point-of-Sale (PoS) readers. Whether these ‘partners’ decide to do so depends on what is in it for them of course, but there is no doubt a collective effort is required if large scale adoption is to happen. The question is who is in control?
The telco says that service providers will be able to manage their own security domain in the SIMs using OTA technology and users can personalise and update bolt-on applications over time. A secure space on the SIM will be on offer and Orange’s 27 million customers can activate whatever is on offer, be it a bank balance checking offering or a discount coupon.
The move follows Orange’s extensive NFC trails in Nice, France, over the last couple of years and its partnership last week with Microsoft on its SIM-based NFC offering in France.
By Neil Ainger