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Several hardware solutions for Secure Contactless Payments

NFC Phones, the solutions to allow secure contactless payments.

Near Field Communication allows much more than a wave and pay payment. But the possibility
of contactless payments with the available NFC Phones, is what really hits the headlines.
To securely store the virtual money,we find 6 hardware solutions. Without embedded secure
element or SWP (Single Wire Protocol),your Phone with an NFC chip is still a NFC
reader/writer, just not secure for contactless payments.
Nokias C7 and N9, are NFC enabled Phones without support for secure element.


1: Embedded secure element

NFC radio controller, the secure element and NFC software all in one chip
embedded in your NFC Phone. The Google Nexus S (the first widely
available and easily obtainable NFC Phone) has this. But….this phone is
very special, it has also the SWP onboard.
Update; Google wallet uses this approach.

2: SWP with SIM-card

NFC chip in the NFC Phone, using SWP (single wire protocol) for connection
with the SIM/UICC card. The SIM card is the secure environment. The
SIM card approach is consideredthe most popular at the moment.
The Samsung Tocco Lite in the UK has the Quick Tap application on the SIM,
and that seems more favorable for a carrier, Orange can take the SIM to
another handset to move the prepaid account.
Update; ISIS and Cityzi do it this way.

3: Secure element on microSD card

microSD secure element for contactless payments with NFC Phones

NFC chip uses SWP to communicates with microSD-card.
Communication with microSD-card is not standardized. The
European Payments Council (represents banks) maintains that
the quickest way to deploy would involve using microSD cards.
If the microSD card was fitted with NFC capabilities, integration
with the NFC phone and the mobile operator’s internal system
would be minimal.

Visa and BPCE launched a trial (jun 2011) in Nice and
Strasbourg with 500 users, who will get microSD cards
preloaded with a Visa payWave application. They just wave
their NFC Phone to pay for purchases of up to €20. Payment
without PIN-code.
The microSD cards would enable the bank to bypass French
mobile operators and their NFC enabled SIM cards. But this approach would mean
the secure element within the microSD card, would not communicate with the
handset’s keys and screen in a secure manner?, possibly opening up the system to hacking?

You want a Do It Yourself NFC Phone? If your phone has a metallic SD-card slot or metal back cover,
than it will not work properly, because the SD card antenna covers a very small area. A
special application is also needed.

Update aug.’12; DeviceFidelity, supplies microSD cards with NFC chip and built-in
antenna for non-NFC enabled Android and BlackBerry phones. About 10 non-NFC-enabled
Android phones can be used at the moment. The Moneto 4 GB microSDs require a booster
antenna in the back cover to increase the range.

4: Stickers transform bluetooth Phones into NFC Phones

The stickers twinlinx mymax sticker on NFC Phone for contactless paymentsincorporate three separate chips plus an on-board battery
to power the Bluetooth circuitry. The first handles the device’s contactless
interface, the second handles the Bluetooth interface with the mobile
phone and the third acts as the secure element. “Sticker company”
Twinlinx revealed that the price of the Mymax NFC stickers should
drop fast. (I read about €25,-/$35 mid 2011, should be half of it in
2012, retail or wholesale ?). Morpho, developer of SWP-enabled
SIM cards and also “sticker maker” sees this as a temporary solution
until more NFC Phones are available.

Update about stickers; In the Netherlands, Rabobank uses
NFC-stickers from Multicard for their mobile wallet.
Multicard’s E-payment stickers do not use bluetooth.
Phone and sticker do not communicate directly with each other.
You can stick them on anything.  But this sticker does not enable
peer to peer mode or reader/writer mode. This sticker is only
for their contactless payments.

5: Case/cover/adapter for a Phone

Basically the same principle as a sticker. This week (sept.2011), Korean telecom carrier KT announced an NFC case along with a new contactless payment system, designed specifically for the iPhone. This case (Apple Certified) will turn that smartphone into a mobile wallet for contactless payments. I have read about such  solutions before, so it’s not something new.  Update; Since  2009!  icarte.ca has a sorte of an NFC adapter for the iPhone.

6: AIO NFC-SIM-card

Other companies already have tried to embed antennas in SIM cards,
but failed to bring a working card on the market. Most SIM slots are
behind the phone battery, a problem for the signals, to and from the
reader. Maybe not possible with all Mobile Phones, but NFC chip vendor
Inside Secure has announced a new technology that it says can embed
a contactless chip and antenna into SIM cards.

No surprise if more hardware solutions appear for contactless payments.
nobody wants to miss the NFC boat.

It is all about…..money. Control of the secure element is essential;
the companies that control the secure element are guaranteed a piece
of the cake. The issuing banks see the microSD card as a way to directly
control the secure element. New NFC Phones available almost every week.
But.. selling NFC Phones with embedded secure element, isn’t the quickest
way to deploy in scale.

About the author

Joao Rostli

1 comment

1 ping

  1. Tina

    To follow the worldwide mobile payment trend, Shenzhen N-pass Mobile Technology Ltd, the subsidiary of Aisidi, one of the largest famous branded agents in China, has been equipped with over 50 talented engineers from NFC field to be in market from this year to promote NFC-enabled phones, ranging from budget feature dual sim gsm to android 2.3 wcdma+gsm models. Their NFC are with three features: 1)card emulation(SWP-SIM,SWP-SD,S2C-SD); 2) reader with standard ISO14443A/B,Mifire, Tags; 3) P2P.

  1. first Broadcom nfc controller chips in Google Nexus 4 | nfc-phones.org

    [...] support of multiple Secure Elements (both SIM and non-SIM) within a single device. – Multiple SWP interfaces allow for standards-based SIM and embedded secure element integration. – Easily pairs with [...]

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