Singaporean Government Awards TSM Contract; Expects NFC Launch in mid-2012

Oct 26 2011

Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority has announced the award of its contract for trusted service management to a consortium led by France-based Gemalto, with plans calling for a nationwide launch of NFC payment, ticketing and tag-reading services on the island nation from mid-2012.

The consortium includes mobile operators StarHub and M1, along with SingTel, as well as major banks, DBS and Citibank Singapore, and the country’s largest transit fare collection operator, EZ-Link. EZ-Link’s stored-value application also can be used for retail purchases.

The contract comes with funding by the IDA, with the government agency taking an aggressive role in attempting to create an interoperable NFC platform that Singaporean mobile operators, banks, transit fare-collection operators and others can plug into. All told, IDA and the consortium members will invest S$40 million (US$31.5 million) in the platform and up to 10 NFC mobile payment and value-added services by 2014, said the IDA today. 

If true, that is a very well-funded project, considering Singapore only has a population of 5 million and according to tender documents, the IDA is requring the winning consortium to have a relatively modest 30,000 subscribers enrolled a little more than two years after the contract is awarded. 

The IDA, the country’s regulator of telecommunications and other information services, predicted NFC would roll out progressively, with three mobile-payment applications available by mid-2012. By that time there should be more than 20,000 retail locations or point-of-sale terminals and taxis able to accept contactless payment from NFC phones along with more than 600 locations in major shopping malls and office buildings equipped with smart posters.

Update: StarHub, EZ-Link and DBS Tuesday said they planned to launch NFC services by mid-2012.

StarHub said it would offer NFC phones to customers, though didn't specify models, and would “look for more payment and service partners to collaborate on unique services.” The parties indicated in a press release they would introduce payment, along with other services, such as enabling consumers to purchase tickets and receive news, discounts and promotions from retailers “with just a simple tap.” End update.

IDA said mobile payment would roll out first, followed by transit fare collection in early 2013, said the IDA. Plans reportedly call for not only NFC phones but NFC bridge technologies, for example, an NFC-enabled iPhone attachment.

While the IDA is not expected to issue regulations requiring all Singaporean telcos, banks and other service providers to use the platform and national TSM–which it calls a “trusted third party”–cooperation will be highly recommended among Singapore’s m-commerce players. Those players also include a competing payment service provider to EZ-Link, NETS.

The government contends its hands-on approach is needed to enable service providers to offer interoperable NFC payment and other services to subscribers from any of the small island city-state’s mobile operators and to build “widespread adoption of NFC mobile services by merchants and consumers.” Regulators in other developed countries have not been as directly involved in building NFC TSM platforms. TSMs mainly are responsible for downloading and managing applications secure elements in NFC devices.

“DBS, EZ-Link and Citibank will enable a wide range of their credit (and) debit scheme cards and stored value payment products, to be issued over-the-air through Gemalto, and stored on the secure chips in their customers' NFC-enabled mobile phones,” IDA said in a statement today.

“Besides payment services, Gemalto will also be collaborating with service providers to deploy a range of innovative NFC mobile value-added services such as interactive digital signage advertising, mobile coupons and mobile ticketing. This will allow consumers to interact with these digital signage advertisements and download coupons, tickets and product information onto their NFC-enabled mobile phones.”

Award of the contract is behind schedule and had been planned for last May or June. Singapore-based Cassis International led the other consortium on the shortlist with Gemalto for the contract. That consortium included some of the same members as the Gemalto group, such as telcos SingTel and M1, along with Citibank, but also included two handset makers, Nokia and Research in Motion, as well as NETS and MasterCard Worldwide.

To be selected, Gemalto and its consortium partners had to make a number of commitments, as stated in its tender request, or “call for collaboration,” last year. Among them was being able to offer applications from at least four payment service providers within 20 months of winning the award. The payment applications must be based on widely accepted credit payment schemes, such as Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide, as well as Singapore’s e-purse standard, CEPAS.

As part of the tender request, the government also will insist that Gemalto turn over ownership to the IDA of its interface specifications and processes for connecting service providers to SIMs or other secure elements in the NFC devices. The IDA said it needs to control the interface specs to ensure that all prospective service providers can hook into the system in the future.

Gemalto and its consortium also must commit to providing transparent pricing and publish its fee schedule for managing applications on SIM cards or other secure chips in NFC phones or bridge technologies.

Besides having only 30,000 subscribers enrolled a little more than two years after getting the contract award, along with 4,000 merchant locations, tender documents said the winning consortium must be handling at least 450,000 NFC-based retail payment transactions per month after 32 months.

Gemalto said last week its software and services unit had won at least a combined 20 contracts to provide mobile operators with TSM services as well as LTE services related to rollouts of the 4G network infrastructure by telcos. The TSM contracts include the Isis joint venture in the United States and the mobile wallet program from Deutsche Telekom, as NFC Times has reported. It likely also includes the IDA contract.

HEADLINE NEWS

TI’s NFC Sensor Transponder Latest Product to Target Wearables, IoT Markets

Dec 20 2014

U.S-based Texas Instruments said it expects to see prototype launches of devices using its recently launched NFC sensor transponder in the first quarter of 2015, as the U.S.-based chip maker seeks a larger stake in the promising markets for wearables, Internet of Things and industrial applications that sometimes require an NFC interface.

NFC SIMs in Short Supply for Chunghwa Telecom's NFC Rollout

NFC Times Exclusive – TAIPEI, Taiwan – Gemalto announced this week that it is providing NFC SIM cards for Chunghwa Telecom’s commercial launch of NFC services, but availability of the SIMs to the telco’s subscribers are extremely limited and none of the telco’s shops or service centers currently have the cards, NFC Times has learned.

Magyar Telekom Launches Hungary’s First NFC Payments Service; Hopes to Avoid Threats to SIM-Based NFC

Dec 11 2014

NFC Times Exclusive – Hungary’s largest telco, which last week launched NFC payments commercially, believes it can avoid problems and threats encountered by other telcos launching

People on the Move: Awad Returns to Broadcom’s NFC Program as Chip Maker’s NFC Business Lags Behind Chief Rivals

Dec 4 2014

NFC Times Exclusive – Mohamed Awad, who formerly headed Broadcom’s NFC business, has returned to oversee the program, among other duties, as Broadcom looks to reinvigorate a progra

NFC Telco Pioneer Turkcell Pulls Back on Support for Technology

NFC Times Exclusive – Turkey’s largest mobile operator, Turkcell, one of the first telcos globally to launch NFC service commercially, has pulled back from the technology, having seen too little take-up for NFC retail payments, NFC Times has learned.

Gemalto Seeks to Reposition TSM Offer as ‘Hub,’ as It Tries to Counter Threats to Its NFC Business; but is It Really a Hub?

Dec 1 2014

NFC Times Exclusive – With the role of the TSM coming under increasing pressure for being too complex and costly, Gemalto, the world’s largest TSM, is seeking to reposition its TSM offer–promoting it as being part of a large “trusted services hub,” as the France-based vendor tries to convince more banks to provision their credit and debit cards on NFC SIMs.

NXP Seeks to Open Up Access to Embedded Chips in Android Phones

Nov 20 2014

With interest growing again in embedded secure elements in NFC phones to store applications, thanks to Apple Pay, NXP Semiconductors is trying to drive demand for its embedded chips in Android phones by making it easier for service providers to load their applications on the silicon.

Orange NFC Chief: We Want to Talk to Apple about Putting Orange Cash on iPhone

NFC Times Exclusive: The head of mobile payments for France-based mobile operator Orange Group said he wants to talk to Apple about enabling the telco’s co-branded payment application, Orange Cash, on the Apple Pay platform. 

Visa, MasterCard: Secure In-App Payments with Apple Pay a ‘Game Changer,’ but Card-Not-Present Rates Remain

NFC Times Exclusive: While the thought of more consumers tapping their phones to pay in stores is attracting the most attention with the launch of Apple Pay, it’s the prospect of users paying for purchases in mobile apps with Apple Pay that could be the real breakthrough, say representatives of Visa and MasterCard Worldwide. 

OTI Reduces Growth Estimate and Pushes Back Positive EBITDA Prediction

Israeli-based NFC and contactless company On Track Innovations pushed back its prediction for positive adjusted EBITDA back to the third quarter of 2015 and reduced its estimate for 2014 revenue growth to 10%, down from the 30% it had predicted previously, the company reported in its quarterly earnings call.

DeviceFidelity Acquired by mPOS and Reader Component Supplier Kili

Canada-based Kili Technology, which supplies hardware modules, firmware and IP for mobile point of sale, readers and other payment-acceptance devices, has acquired NFC-accessories vendor DeviceFidelity.

Subway Eschews Exclusivity, Supports Multiple Mobile Wallets

NFC Times Exclusive: LAS VEGAS, Nev. – While a number of major U.S. merchants have pledged to only accept one mobile-payments service, that is not the case for giant Subway sandwich chain, which has now introduced at least three major options for its customers to pay with their smartphones.