Cassis International is one of the earliest entrants in the gold rush to offer trusted service management services and platforms. Even before there were NFC trials, Cassis was downloading payment applications to phones, starting in 2003 for SK Telecom and the telco’s ill-conceived attempt to use infrared technology to beam payment data from phones to point-of-sale terminals in South Korea.
SKT later moved the m-payment project to contactless and contact miniature credit cards inserted into non-NFC phones and then dual-interface SIMs. So, Cassis is one of the few TSMs, along with Japan’s FeliCa Networks monopoly, with experience downloading payment applications to millions of phones.
But so far, the TSM gold rush hasn’t paid off for anyone and steady work is hard to find for companies to download and manage applications over the air to the small number of NFC phones yet in use.
And Cassis finds itself competing against large rivals, including global smart card vendors Gemalto and Giesecke & Devrient, for the nascent TSM market. Despite that, Cassis has managed to snag one of the few NFC “rollouts,” a term now loosely applied to any project in which NFC phones are put on sale to the general public. That project, called “FastTap,” was launched in April 2009 by Malaysian mobile operator Maxis Communications with Visa Inc., Maybank and transit fare-collection operator Touch 'n Go.
Unfortunately for Cassis, the project hasn’t gotten much beyond the first 3,000 phones, a disappointment attributed as much as anything else to the sole NFC phone available in Maxis stores, the dowdy Nokia 6212.
Cassis, generally considered one of four global TSMs, along with G&D-owned Venyon, Gemalto and Vivotech, has also locked up contracts with Turkish banking card organization BKM and France Telecom arm Orange Business Services. In both of these cases, Cassis will not provide the TSM services itself but will license its OTA platform to BKM and Orange Business Services.
BKM has ambitions to become Turkey’s national TSM and then expand abroad, although it has delayed its multibank, multioperator NFC trial by more than a year. Orange Business Services will also offer TSM services, though sister company, mobile operator Orange France, will likely go with a local player.
Although Cassis’ founders have roots in smart card vendor Gemplus, now part of France-based Gemalto, Cassis positions itself against its larger rival based on its longer experience downloading m-payment apps and its more nimble operation.