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U.S.: Bank Launches Beta Test of microSDs with iPhone

Salt Lake City, Utah; Portland, Ore., United States
Scope: 
Trial
Launch: 
Jan 2013
Main Application: 
Payment
Mobile Operator: 
N/A
Service Provider (application): 
U.S. Bank (Visa payWave)
Merchants: 
A range of merchants that accept Visa payWave in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Portland, Ore., and beyond
Users: 
N/A
NFC Handsets: 
N/A
TSM*: 
N/A
Secure Element: 
microSD card
Other Vendors: 
DeviceFidelity (microSD cards, iCaisse4X iPhone case), Visa (payWave application), Datacard Group (personalization of payment application) NXP Semiconductors (NFC phone chip), STMicroelectronics (embedded secure element)

U.S. Bank, the No. 5 commercial bank in the U.S. launched its Go Mobile service as a beta test in two cities for new FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature account holders. The bank indicated it would introduce the service “more broadly” in 2013.  The NFC-payments service is available only on the iPhone 4 and 4S models, since the iPhone attachment from DeviceFidelity was yet ready for the iPhone 5 in January of 2013. Customers approved for the bank’s FlexPerks card and who opt in for the service receive a free iPhone case from the bank, along with a card that carries an EMV chip, which they could use in the U.S. and also in chip-and-PIN terminals abroad. The microSDs store a Visa payWave application and customers could tap where payWave is accepted. The case, DeviceFidelity’s iCaisse4X, carries a full NFC chip, along with an embedded secure element The 4X case also offers extended battery life.

NFC Times Take: 

The Go Mobile service on the DeviceFidelity microSDs is the same implementation that the Isis telcos in the U.S. plan to launch for their two-city trial in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas. DeviceFidelity changed suppliers of the embedded secure element for the U.S. Bank and also the forthcoming Isis launch to a chip from STMicroelectronics, which has more memory for applications. The chip carries a total of 1.2 megabytes of flash memory, about half available for services, and Isis requested the extra memory. DeviceFidelity had been using both an NFC chip and secure element from NXP. U.S. Bank launched its first trial of contactless microSD cards in late 2010 and extended it to a number of cities. It hasn’t released results of the trials publicly. But in its announcement of the Go Mobile service, the bank’s chief innovation officer, Dominic Venturo, said the bank has “incorporated all of the feedback we have received from prior pilots and our customer research into this latest offering.” A number of other banks have trialed DeviceFidelity's technology, with mixed results. The banks used earlier versions of the iPhone case, as well as contactless microSDs that could be inserted into non-NFC-enabled BlackBerry and Android phones.

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