Orange Announces NFC-SIM Rollout, Smartphone-Purchase Aims

France Telecom-Orange Group has announced plans to roll out SIM cards supporting NFC services to most of its European operators by the second half of 2011 and has stated its intention that more than half of the new smartphones models it buys will support NFC.

Orange, one of the largest operator groups in Europe, made the announcement at a meeting with mobile handset makers in Paris Wednesday. The telco group said it would “work with manufacturers to ensure that over half of new smartphone models it buys will be compatible with contactless services when combined with the new secure SIM.”

"The smartphone revolution has changed the way people organize their daily lives," Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom–Orange, said in a statement. "Our commitment to contactless services will benefit customers, giving them a seamless, convenient and secure way to validate transport or make payments."

Orange has major European operations in France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Poland, as well as five other European countries. The announcement probably does not apply to the United Kingdom, where Orange UK is part of a joint venture with Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile. The JV, Everything Everywhere, is said to be handling its own NFC phone and SIM purchases.

The Orange SIMs to be rolled out would be able to store ticketing, payment and other secure applications in the phones and would be intended for postpaid subscribers.

Orange has already disclosed that it would begin putting the Samsung S5230, Player One, NFC phone on sale in shops throughout its home base of France starting in January. The telco and its competitors are using the phone model, which is not a smartphone, for the precommercial trial they launched last May in Nice. Orange said it will put other NFC handset models on sale in France starting in the spring.

The telco earlier this year set a target of selling 500,000 NFC phones by the end of 2011 in France. Orange has more than 26 million subscribers in France.

Orange’s strategy is to seed the market with NFC phones in France even before NFC services are available, in order to have a base of customers ready to use the services when they are introduced. That may also be the strategy for rolling out NFC-enabled SIMs later next year in most European markets.

But it is unclear when the group will be able to make good on its intention that more than half of the smartphone models it buys will support NFC.

"As soon as vendors deliver," one source at Orange told NFC Times. "So we have started passing the message (that) NFC is now a feature on which we will select phones for our catalogue."

With that message, Orange hopes handset makers will make more models available.

Orange wants the NFC phones to be paired with its NFC-enabled SIMs, through which it plans to make revenue. It would charge service providers to put their applications on the SIMs and fees for helping to manage the services. 

HEADLINE NEWS

Profits Remain Elusive for Contactless Reader and NFC Tech Supplier OTI

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Israel-based On Track Innovations reported continued negative adjusted EBITDA and didn’t announce any new major reader sales during a recent conference call to discuss the company’s first quarter earnings. Despite a recent patent case win, investors appear to be getting impatient.

Identiv Reports Drop in Q1 Sales and Full-Year Guidance; but Says Demand for NFC Tags for IoT Up

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Identiv reported lower-than-expected revenue for its first quarter and continued losses, though CEO Jason Hart said the company is se

Vendor Group Confirms 30% Growth in NFC Secure Elements in 2014; Revises 2015 Growth Rate

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Smart card vendor association Eurosmart has confirmed its estimate that vendors shipped 350 million NFC secure elements last year, up 30% from the year before, fueled by embedded chips in Apple’s iPhones and what is probably the last significant growth spurt in NFC SIM card shipments. It predicts shipments of 550 million secure elements in 2015, up 57% from 2014, though revised downward from an earlier projection.

Qualcomm Strikes Deal to Use NFC Technology from NXP; Drops In-House NFC Program

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Qualcomm, the largest supplier of processor chips for mobile phones globally, has made a deal to integrate NFC technology from NXP Semiconductors for its reference designs for OEMs featuring its Snapdragon processors.

Samsung Pay Head: Interest in Embedded Chips Grows for Payments and Nonpayments; eSE Won't be Limited to Samsung Pay

May 4 2015

NFC Times Exclusive –  Besides payments, Samsung is targeting nonpayment applications, and is seeing “growing interest” in its embedded chips, Samsung Pay director Victor Kim told NFC Times.

Gemalto CEO: TSM Revenue to Fall in 2015; Won't Pick Up Until Next Year, Likely with New Technologies

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Gemalto CEO Olivier Piou said revenue from the vendor’s trusted service management business fell in the first quarter and would stay down for the rest of the year, while indicating Gemalto is no longer seeing many TSM tenders from telcos.

Giesecke & Devrient, Oberthur Hit by Falling Prices, SIM Sales

Apr 30 2015

NFC Times Exclusive – Falling SIM card prices among other challenges have forced such major smart card and NFC vendors as Giesecke & Devrient and Oberthur Technologies to restructure, though strong growth in shipments of EMV cards to Asia and the United States helped them record growth in overall revenue in 2014.

PayPal Doing NFC Trials, but Says It Will Not Rely Solely on NFC Technology

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – PayPal is trialing NFC mobile payments, CEO-designee Dan Schulman said during eBay’s first quarter earnings call, but the company continues to be cautious about embracing NFC.

Fourth U.S. Payments Network to Support Apple Pay; Discover Financial to Launch NFC Commercially after False Starts

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Payment network Discover Financial Services announced its support for Apple Pay on Monday, becoming the fourth major payment networks in the U.S. to join Apple Pay.

Broadcom Says Little About NFC in Q1 Earnings Call

Apr 23 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based Broadcom reported continued growth for its connectivity segment during its first quarter 2015 earnings call, but made almost no mention of NFC.

Apple Drives Nascent NFC Payments Wearables Market with Arrival This Week of Apple Watch

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – With the first Apple Watch units set to be delivered this week, NFC payments for wearable devices becomes a budding market, though it remains to be seen whether consumers want to tap their watches or wristbands to pay.

Apple Gets Some Pushback from Banks as It Seeks to Expand Apple Pay Abroad

Apr 20 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight –Apple is getting some pushback from banks as it seeks to expand its payments service, Apple Pay, outside of the U.S., where its U.S. business model along with other characteristics of the U.S. market will not translate well, NFC Times has learned.