Product Safety and Testing Company UL Buys Consultant for Isis, Project Oscar
U.S.-based global product safety and testing company UL has acquired Netherlands-based NFC and smart card consulting and test tools firm Collis, which has worked with NFC joint ventures that have formed or are planned in the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
UL, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories, acquired Collis to be part of its transaction security unit, which it has been expanding. UL in June 2010 bought UK-based smart card and NFC test lab RFI Global, and in January 2012 acquired Australia-based Witham Laboratories, which offers point-of-sale terminal and PIN pad testing, among other services.
UL said the acquisitions give it “end-to-end” testing and consulting services for mobile payment, banking cards, e-ticketing and ID.
Mobile NFC is a particular interest for UL, Brian Watson, director for transaction security at UL, which is part of the company’s Verification Services division, told NFC Times.
“It was a critical factor in the decision” to acquire Collis, said Watson, formerly of RFI Global.
Collis, known for the bright orange ties many of its 170 employees wear at industry events, provides consulting, test tools, training and some actual testing for banks, mobile operators, transport operators, government agencies and vendors.
It has worked on some high-profile NFC and contactless projects as a consultant, including the Isis mobile operator joint venture and the Sixpack initiative, made up of major banks and mobile operators in the Netherlands. The work includes helping the groups choose trusted service managers. Collis also has provided test tools and test services for handsets and NFC SIMs for Isis, said CEO Dirk Jan van den Heuvel.
Collis is also consulting for Project Oscar, the proposed NFC joint venture by major UK mobile operators Everything Everywhere, Telefónica (O2) UK and Vodafone UK, NFC Times has learned, though van den Heuvel declined to confirm that.
“Mobile payments work–it’s really booming,” he said. “The whole acquisition was not because Collis isn’t doing well. It’s because UL wants to be a strong brand in the world of transaction security. They are a brand for trust for security and safety for more than 100 years, but they were not that present in world of financial transactions.”
Van den Heuvel said Collis also has worked on numerous EMV card rollouts for banks, offering consulting, training, test tools and some testing and certification, though not official lab certification. It has also worked on transit ticketing projects in Singapore, Dubai, Germany and New Zealand.
NFC helps bring all the markets–payment, transit ticketing and government ID–together, van den Heuvel said. Being part of UL would expand Collis’ reach more into the Americas and Asia and expand the available services, including the RFI Global test lab, he said.
And at least for the time being, Collis will keep the bright orange ties, van den Heuvel said.