GlobalPlatform, the processor and trade body organisation, has updated its specification for the management of mobile near field communication (NFC) services. Working in collaboration with larger bodies such as the GSMA, organisers of this week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona, Spain, and the European Payments Council (EPC) and France’s Association Française pour le ‘Sans Contact’ Mobile (AFSCM), the updated version 1.1 Management of Mobile NFC Services specification is intended to address how service providers can connect and communicate with other actors operating within the NFC ecosystem, delivering common messaging and a shared protocol.
First released in 2011, the GlobalPlatform messaging specification defines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders within the NFC landscape. It also outlines the messaging ‘language’ that should be used across all parties to ensure global consistency and clear communication when managing secure applications over-the-air (OTA) or over-the-internet in a cloud environment. Shared messaging requires all players to agree, however, so that transactions can be exchanged between all actors in an NFC deployment in an interoperable, secure and reliable web services format, which is why the involvement of the non-aligned EPC, GSMA and others is so vital.
A key update to the version 1.1 specification is the precise direction it now offers to service providers such as payment systems or transit operators, on how to securely connect with other actors in the NFC landscape. This includes engagement with trusted third parties such as mobile network operators (MNO), trusted service managers (TSM) or commercial partners to deliver joint mobile services.
“Mobile messages support back-office activities that facilitate the secure deployment – or ‘provisioning’ – of an application to a mobile device,” explains Gil Bernabeu, GlobalPlatform’s technical director. “Mobile messages are also essential for dealing with post deployment events. This could be voluntary – such as an end-user requesting an update to service privileges or changes to personal details, or involuntary – say, a device is lost or stolen and the services need to be suspended.
“As with all GlobalPlatform specifications, once the document has been released, we [will] continue to engage and listen to the market to update and refine it,” adds Bernabeu. “In addition to general industry amends, service providers highlighted requirements to support the mobile wallet and secure services environment that were unique to them. This document focuses on these areas to enable complete integration of the service provider in the NFC environment.”
GlobalPlatform’s work to support TSMs and the communication between other parties in the NFC ecosystem will continue even after this latest update. Last year GSMA, which represents the interests of MNOs worldwide, published its ‘Business Process Implementation Guidelines using GlobalPlatform Protocols’, which sets out a framework for MNOs to reach full interoperability with GlobalPlatform protocols. Bernabeu adds: “This is the ultimate aim of our work; to provide a messaging specification that allows individual markets to establish business processes, all based on one industry approved and common messaging framework.”
GlobalPlatform says its next step is to develop an end-to-end simplified framework that will help NFC stakeholders operating in different markets to deploy services quickly following configurations for secure elements, mobile devices and backend systems relevant to individual sectors. Again, non-proprietary cooperation will be required if success and widespread adoption is to follow.
“We are committed to supporting the development of a sustainable and scalable NFC ecosystem,” concludes Bernabeu. “As part of this we recognise the need to reduce ambiguity and support new players coming into the secure element [SE] chip landscape such as TSMs. We believe the development of our backend systems and associated end-to-end frameworks will deliver the final piece of the jigsaw to realise our aim.”
GlobalPlatform plans to host a TSM event in Madrid, Spain, on 18 June 2013, which will showcase the GlobalPlatform specifications to TSMs, in an attempt to gain adherents.
• The Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 trade show runs 25-28 February this week in Barcelona, Spain. Bobsguide has a reporter at MWC 2013 and will produce a subsequent full report on it, with follow-up interviews and articles to come. Please visit our blog section. For last year's 2012 show report please click here.