RIM Plans to Enable Corporate ID on Embedded Chips in NFC BlackBerrys
BlackBerry phone maker Research In Motion plans to enable enterprises to store their corporate badges and other access-control and ID applications on embedded chips in its NFC phones.
HID Global, a large supplier of physical access-control systems, announced the working relationship with RIM Thursday. It leaves little doubt that corporate ID is one of the applications RIM has planned for the embedded chips in its NFC-enabled BlackBerrys.
HID, which is part of giant digital door lock maker Assa Abloy, said it is adapting its iCLASS corporate and student ID card applications for the first BlackBerry NFC models RIM is introducing–the Bold 9900 and related 9930, and the Curve 9350 along with its close cousins, the 9360 and 9370.
The applications would work with the base of iCLASS readers at corporate and college campuses and other institutions, enabling employees and students to tap their phones to enter offices, dormitories and other buildings, said HID.
HID would be able to deliver the credentials to employee phones over the air, with the help of a trusted service manager, or TSM. Related applications using NFC could include time and attendance, network-access control and enabling closed-loop payment at corporate cafeterias, HID told NFC Times.
These physical-access control and related applications would be stored on embedded chips in the BlackBerrys, HID confirmed.
Besides the contactless door-access applications, RIM might store credentials on the embedded chips to secure network-based services.
HID said it would organize trials of the NFC corporate ID applications this year and expects to have the iCLASS offer available for the NFC-enabled Bold and Curve models by early 2012.
The vendor Tuesday also announced an “NFC” trial that launched in August with a relatively small number of Arizona State University students. But contrary to published reports elsewhere, the trial uses contactless microSD cards, not full NFC phones, to store the physical access-control applications used to unlock doors at a student residence hall.
RIM likely wants a piece of the NFC-based access-control business, adding this to its portfolio of mobile-enterprise products. The smartphone maker has stayed mum on this and on other applications it might enable on embedded chips in its NFC phones.
RIM also might be working on a mobile wallet to support payment and other secure applications that could be stored on the embedded chips. The handset maker could then possibly earn revenue from making the chips available to service providers. NFC Times has learned that RIM has been looking to hire a TSM to manage applications on the embedded chips.
“NFC technology will enable many new and exciting capabilities for BlackBerry smartphones, and we are very pleased to be working with HID Global to be the first to bring a host of secure identity and mobile access-control capabilities to NFC-enabled smartphones,” Andrew Bocking, vice president, handheld software product management at RIM, said in a statement.
But if RIM retains control of the embedded chips in the phones, it could create tension with some mobile operators, which want to store secure NFC applications on SIM cards they issue. At least some of the NFC-enabled BlackBerrys are expected to support secure applications on SIMs, in addition to the secure storage on embedded chips.
Daniel Bailin, director of program management and strategic innovation for HID, told NFC Times that putting iCLASS access-control applications onto mobile phones offers some advantages over issuing iCLASS cards. Among the benefits are being able to deploy, update and cancel the applications on employee phones over the air.
“That’s a big difference you don’t get with a physical card,” he said. A disgruntled employee who is fired, for example, might not return his ID card, requiring the company to manually remove his access privileges from multiple job sites.
“At the same time, you could wipe the credential remotely on the phone,” Bailin said. “It’s clearly one of the nice things you get with mobile credentials that you may not get with a card.”
France-based chip maker Inside Secure supplies all of the NFC chips for the BlackBerry models. Inside also has been the long-standing supplier of contactless chips for HID’s contactless access-control cards.
Inside’s NFC chips for phones at present come stacked with embedded secure elements from Germany-based Infineon Technologies, which would store the iCLASS applications.