China: No. 3 Mobile Operator Rolls Out SIMs with Flexible Antennas
China’s major fixed-line telco and third largest mobile operator is rolling out SIM cards with flexible antennas in Nanjing and other cities in Jiangsu province, as well as some other cities in China. Users have to replace their SIM cards with SIMs with dual-interface chips and flexible antennas. They can then tap their phones to pay for fares on buses and taxis and for purchases at retail outlets, such as gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants. Students can also use their phones as ID. Users insert the cards into their phones’ SIM slots and wrap the antenna around the batteries. The vendor makes the product in a few configurations to fit phones with SIM slots in different positions. Phones with metal covers block the transmissions, however.
Of China’s three mobile operators, No. 3 China Telecom is making the most use of what is considered a bridge technology, SIMpass. The vendor, Watchdata, said it had shipped 3 million SIMpass units by April 2011, most of them sold to China Telecom. Besides 11 cities in Jiangsu province, the telco is also issuing cards in some other places, including Ningbo city in Eastern China. Those cards carry a contactless e-purse issued by the Bank of China and supported by China’s bank card network China UnionPay. While the country's two largest mobile operators, China Mobile and China Unicom, respectively, have issued some SIMpass cards, they appear more interested in developing full NFC phones. That includes China Mobile, which has agreed to drop its nonstandard RF-SIM technology in favor of 13.56-MHz contactless technology for contactless-mobile payment.
* Trusted Service Manager: Defined loosely to include companies or other organizations securely distributing, provisioning and managing applications, generally over the air, on secure elements in NFC mobile phones; or licensing their platforms for this purpose. N/A: Not available or not applicable. Last update: April 2011