To those who criticize Nokia for the rather bland handsets it has outfitted with NFC and put onto the market, the handset maker responds–with some justification–that it has done more than any other phone maker to advance NFC technology.

Since co-founding the NFC Forum, the industry’s major trade group, in early 2004 with NFC co-creators Philips Semiconductors and Sony, Nokia has introduced NFC versions of four handsets. The phones have been the workhorses of most of the dozens NFC trials held to date. (See Project Database).

Another phone, the Nokia 6216, was delayed, then Nokia pulled the plug on the project. The 6216 was to be another mid-tier feature phone, like the others, except that it was to support a standard connection to the SIM card, which then could have stored payment, ticketing or other applications securely in the phones. Nokia has resisted the move by mobile operators to establish the SIM card as the preferred secure chip to store the NFC applications. This gives the telcos more control over the applications since operators issue the SIMs.

Then in June 2010, Nokia announced it would begin to move its Symbian smartphones to NFC. It then quietly began shipping its first Symbian-based NFC phone, the C7, in October 2010, though the handset maker said the phone model needed an NFC software upgrade before the NFC features would work. 

Some observers have thought Nokia had its own plans for controlling the phone, even becoming an NFC service provider in its own right and using a secure chip it embeds in the phones, rather than the SIM, to store applications.

In August 2009, Nokia announced plans to launch Nokia Money, a purely network-based service, with which the handset maker hopes to enable consumers to send money, pay bills, make purchases with merchants and top-up prepaid mobile accounts. All money transfers and payment would use SMS or another network channel and would target developing countries, where bank accounts and payment cards are scarce.

Of course, Nokia could eventually try to put the Nokia Money application onto NFC phones to allow for proximity payment. It would need an acceptance infrastructure of contactless readers to make such an idea work, however. That's unlikely to happen soon in the target market.

In any case, Nokia appears to be keeping its options open to insure the SIM card does not control all applications that get downloaded to NFC phones. After losing a standards battle in the mobile operator’s den, the SIM committee of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the handset maker went to the NFC Forum in mid-2009 to adopt what some consider a competing standard.

Meanwhile, Nokia says it plans to introduce more NFC phones, some of them high-end. Anssi Vanjoki, who will lead the effort to revamp Nokia's troubled smartphone division, announced in June 2010 that beginning in 2011, Nokia's Symbian smartphones would begin to support NFC globally. Vanjoki apparently sees NFC as a way to beat back the challenge from Apple's iPhone and makers of Android-based smartphones.

Key figures: 
Phone Figures
Q3 2008 Q4 2008 Q1 2009 Q2 2009 Q3 2009
Handset Shipments 117.8 113.1 93.2 103.2 108.5
Global Market Share 38.5% 38.5% 38.1% 37.8% 37.8%
In millions of units
Source: Strategy Analytics
Key NFC Personnel: 
Gerhard Romen, vice chairman, NFC Forum, director of mobile financial services, Nokia
Kristiina Ilkka, NFC product marketing manager
Andrea Bacioccola, lead program manager for NFC, Windows Phone program
Major NFC and Contactless competitors: 

Samsung, LG, Apple, HTC

Last Updated: 
Apr 2012


Google Gets Support for Its Underused Smart Tap Technology from POS Terminal Supplier Ingenico

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google has not yet given up on technology it bought from the now defunct Softcard joint venture more than three years ago to try to boost use of its rebranded NFC mobile wallet, Google Pay, formerly Android Pay.

Analysis: Google Launches Google Pay Rebrand, as It Seeks to Enable Payments Across Multiple Channels and Devices

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google began rolling out its previously-announced set of Google Pay services Tuesday in what is primarily a rebrand of Android Pay and other Google payments features. The initiative supports Google’s long-held goal of making payments seamless across its various products and access points.

Can Luxury Watchmaker TAG Heuer Sell Swiss Precision Along with NFC Payments? Its Latest Smartwatch Again Supports Android Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While payments wearables, in general, are taking off more slowly than expected, a number of manufacturers are incorporating the feature in their high-end watches and that includes Switzerland-based luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer.

Hong Kong Banking Group JETCO–Former Backer of NFC–Launches QR Code Payments Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Hong Kong ATM and interbank group JETCO is the latest provider to launch a QR code-based payments service for in-store transactions in Asia, with payments coming out of the consumers’ bank accounts. But the group has few if any merchants live yet.

Vendor Hopes to ‘Flip’ Bitcoin Holders into Users of Cryptocurrency for Retail Purchases

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are mainly seen as assets for speculative investments these days rather than currencies for making payments, U.S.-based provisioning and mobile wallet platform company Fit Pay Thursday released a second announcement about its planned contactless device that would enable holders of Bitcoin to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.

NXP Continues to Promote ‘Loader Service’ Targeting Wearables Market, Seeking to Sell More Embedded Chips

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – In addition to the NFC secure elements that NXP Semiconductors is providing to wearables maker Garmin for its vívoactive 3 and forthcoming Forerunner 645 smartwatches supporting Garmin Pay, NXP is also supplying its “Loader Service,” a technology that the chip maker has been pushing for more than three years.

Popular Messaging App Most-Used Mobile Payments Service in Taiwan: Survey

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – There’s more evidence that social media and messaging apps are proving to be valuable platforms for promoting mobile payments, at least in Asia.

Can Cryptocurrency Work at the Point of Sale? Some Vendors Want to Try

NFC TIMES Exclusive – As cryptocurrencies gain momentum online, some payments vendors and even a handful of national banks are making the first moves toward bringing those currencies into the world of brick-and-mortar retail with mobile payments, but it will likely be some time before those efforts gain a significant foothold in the market.

More U.S. Transit Authorities Plan to Accept Open-Loop Payments, but Some Cities are Opting Out

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Interest continues among a number of transit authorities globally to move toward acceptance of contactless bank cards and NFC phones for fares, but rollouts have been happening in fits and starts in such countries as the U.S., where some cities there are deciding against accepting open-loop payments.

Could China Lead Way in Using QR Codes for Mobile Transit Ticketing Instead of NFC? Shanghai Metro Could Provide Answer

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While the rollout hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as planned, the Shanghai Metro’s launch of a large trial of QR code-based payments could mark a turning point for use of the technology for transit fare collection.

Amazon Launches No-Register Concept Store but Stays Mum on Expansion Plans

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Amazon opened its no-register-no-checkout Amazon Go store to the public today near its headquarters in Seattle–but those expecting a general rollout of the technology or expansion to the supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, that the e-commerce giant bought last year will have to wait much longer.

As Luster Fades on Mobile Wallets, Start-Ups Seek to Enable Digital Payments with Physical Cards

Jan 20 2018

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While UK consumers are taking to contactless payments, they appear to have no intention of replacing their physical cards with mobile wallets, says UK-based digital payments start-up Curve.