Gemalto provides NFC Chip to enable mobile payments on almost any phone
One of the more promising developments I saw at CTIA in Las Vegas this week was in the Gemalto booth. They now offer an embedded NFC chip add-on for phones.
The product is a thin film that fits neatly into the phone battery compartment and connects to the metal contacts of the SIM card. This provides the benefits of NFC contactless chips embedded into mobile phones without having to wait for hardware manufactures to provide them en masse. There’s nothing visible on the outside of the phone and it works on a wide variety of devices.
An embedded solution like this also has advantages over using NFC stickers. Stickers provide relatively static access to a single card. The Gemalto solution provides access to all the processing capabilities on the phone and therefore take advantage of the phone’s software and hardware capabilities. A native phone software application is used to manage security and interact with the user.
Therefore, the chip could provide interactive access to multiple cards and provide a user friendly interface via an application on the phone. So, this means a financial institution wanting to move forward with NFC could issue these chips to customers using a similar process to how they send out plastic credit cards or NFC stickers. In practice, institutions might want to train branch staff initially to show clients how it fits in the phone (although the hardware itself looks about as easy to install as a SIM card).
Most importantly, this lets organizations move forward on their own without everyone having to move at once. Banks, Loyalty card companies, transit agencies, carriers, or anyone else interested in moving forward with an NFC rollout can enable large numbers of phones without coordination delays necessary in device manufacturing and wireless carrier product schedules.
Furthermore, as projects are successful and adoption reaches critical mass, device manufactures can add NFC chips to their devices with the confidence that they will see a return on their investment.
At the end of the day, this is one more barrier removed toward NFC adoption.