Taiwan: Attachment Enables iphone 4 with NFC for transit and retail payment
Taiwan’s largest mobile operator, Chunghwa Telecom, designed the sleeve for Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S with an NFC chip and embedded secure element inside. The first service provider to distribute the device, EasyCard Corp., has enabled users since October to tap their “Easy NFC” iPhones to pay transit fares and make purchases at convenience and other stores that accept EasyCard's preloaded Mifare-based application. The device have been available through 7-Eleven convenience stores for NT$1580 (US$51.45), but only about 70% of the 1,200 units put on sale have sold over the first four months, and Chunghwa Telecom plans a redesign. Two banks, Cathay United and E.Sun, have added a preloaded MasterCard PayPass application starting in January 2012, with a third, Taishin, planning to launch the device in later in February 2012. The banks had delayed the launch until receiving approval from Taiwan’s financial regulators.
The EasyCard app has an auto-load feature for when the user’s balance falls below a certain limit. It would then recharge the e-purse from a preregistered credit card. And users will be able to tap to pay a fare or make a purchase even when the phone’s battery is dead, since the attachment draws power from the reader. The NFC-enabled device also works in tag-reading and peer-to-peer modes.
A potential competitor to the iCarte from Canada-based vendor Wireless Dynamics, Chunghwa Telecom’s iPhone attachment could find a market for telcos and service providers wanting to equip their customers with an NFC-enabled iPhone–since Apple has so far declined to build the technology directly into its smartphones. But like the iCarte, consumers have been hesitant to snap up the add-on, most unwilling to alter the appearance and shape of their iPhones. Chunghwa Telecom still needs approval from regulators to serve as a trusted service manager to handle downloads and management of applications on the secure chip in the device. The device might also still need certification from MasterCard.
* 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: Feb. 2012