RIM: NFC Will Become Standard Technology in Smartphones

BARCELONA — 2011 will be a "pivotal year for NFC," said the head of handset software for Research in Motion, in confirming that "many" of the company’s BlackBerry models will support NFC this year.

The comments by Andrew Bocking, vice president for handheld software product management at RIM, followed reported statements a day earlier by RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie that "many, if not most" of the company’s smartphones released throughout this year would include NFC. Bocking spoke Thursday at a session on NFC at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Balsillie reportedly made his comments during a keynote address on Wednesday.

"NFC, like Bluetooth and WiFi, is really going to be one of those services that will become standard equipment in smartphones," said Bocking.

RIM ranked as the fourth largest mobile phone maker worldwide in 2010 with shipments of 47.5 million units, according to U.S.-based Gartner research. The Canada-based handset supplier did not announce any NFC-enabled phones during the Mobile World Congress last week. At least some of the new NFC phones are expected by mid-year. As NFC Times earlier reported, RIM will use Inside Secure’s new SecuRead NFC chip, and production of the chips is not expected until April. 

Tech bloggers reported last month rumors of three NFC-enabled BlackBerrys, including an expected flagship for the handset maker, the Dakota. One site, which said it had obtained photos and specs for the BlackBerrys, also speculated the next-generation BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Torch 2, would get the NFC treatment.

Bocking mentioned a number of applications that RIM believes its NFC phones might be used for, including retail payment, transit ticketing, access control for corporate campuses, sharing contacts and pictures, and activating accessories. The company is building application-programming interfaces for the applications, he indicated. 

"There are hundreds if not thousands of scenarios that NFC could enable for those use cases," he said.

RIM is said to have insisted that the NFC chips include embedded secure elements. Inside’s SecuRead NFC chip is stacked with such an embedded secure chip, which could store applications that RIM controls.

Anne Bouverot, executive vice president for mobile services for mobile operator France Telecom-Orange group, who spoke at the same NFC session as Bocking, warned that applications stored both on SIM cards and embedded chips in NFC phones could create fragmentation, and customers wouldn’t know whom to call in case of a problem, such as losing their phones.

Orange, which plans to charge service providers fees to manage their applications on the SIMs Orange issues, said end customers would have one point of contact for problems with the applications–their mobile operator.

"That is why we’re pushing for NFC-enabled applications on the SIM card," she said, adding that Orange has talked to Bocking about the issue.

"There will be embedded secure elements," Bouverot said. “What we’re discussing with (respect to the) BlackBerry is to make sure it will work seamlessly for customers, SIM or embedded."

Bocking confirmed Thursday that RIM would support the single-wire protocol, or SWP, which is a standard connection between the NFC and SIM chips in NFC phones. It enables mobile operators to use their SIM cards to carry payment, ticketing and other secure applications.

"We’re going to support NFC, and we’re committed to our partners, partners such as Orange," he said. "We envision that the SIM will be a key part of that, and we’ll make sure that is part of our offer. The key is enabling the ecosystem."

But RIM would still be able to put applications or secure data, such as ID credentials, onto the embedded secure chips, which it might own. RIM, for example, could use the chips to store encryption keys that are part of access-control applications for enterprises. Or it could even use the chips for mobile commerce.

Bocking, however, declined to say what specific applications RIM has in mind for the embedded chips, when asked by NFC Times.

"There are a lot of opportunities there, and we want to make sure we enable all the members of the ecosystem."

HEADLINE NEWS

‘No Way We were Going to Ask for Half a Billion Dollars…’

Unlike other major transit agencies in the U.S., which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars replacing or upgrading their fare-collection systems, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has taken a different approach.

UK Bus Operator Go-Ahead Reports Cash Usage has Plummeted Because of Covid, While Contactless Transactions have Surged

The Go-Ahead Group, one of the big five privately owned public bus operators in the UK, said today it has seen cash usage on board the nearly 3,000 buses it runs in England outside of London fall to 23% of transactions, down from 53% three years ago.

Transit Operator Arriva Launches MaaS App in Netherlands; Hints at Expansion to Other European Countries

Arriva, one of the largest private transit operators in Europe, has launched a mobility-as-a-service app in the Netherlands, using white-label software from Israel-based trip-planning app provider

Cal-ITP: Agencies in California Could Hold ‘Several More’ Open-Loop Fare Payments Pilots

The California Integrated Travel Project, or Cal-ITP, is “on track to have at least several more” open-loop pilots or demonstration projects, a spokeswoman for the program told Mobility Payments.

Exclusive: Australia’s Transport for New South Wales Sees ‘Significant Increase’ in Use of Mobile Wallets by Riders

Mobile wallets now make up more than half of all contactless payments for Transport for New South Wales, Australia’s largest transit agency, the agency confirmed to Mobility Payments.

Start-Up Aims to Encourage More Taxi Drivers to Accept Bank Cards for Fares in Turkey

A Turkish start-up hopes to entice more taxi drivers to accept contactless credit and debit cards using SoftPOS terminals on Android smartphones, under a scheme being rolled out by the local fintec

Moscow Metro Launches Test of Facial Recognition Fare Payments Ahead of Rollout; Agency Says Masks Can Slow Verification

Moscow Metro announced that it is officially testing facial recognition-based fare payments at turnstiles, with plans to roll out the technology by the end of the year.

Major Transit Agency to Test Virtual Closed-Loop Cards with Google Pay

Aug 8 2021

Moscow Metro is launching a trial of a virtual version of its closed-loop Troika card that will be added to the Google Pay wallet, the agency announced Wednesday.

WMATA in D.C. Rolling Out New Terminals but has No Immediate Plans to Support Open Loop

The Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last month started to replace 1,200 aging fare gates for its 91-station metro system and starting next year will do the same with 20-plus year-old fareboxes on board 1,500 buses, including upgraded readers for its closed-loop SmarTrip cards.

Visa Touts Growth in Contactless, Continues to Push Open-Loop Payments

Visa reported this week that contactless payments continued to climb as a percentage of all face-to-face transactions with its brand, mainly at retail, and among the uses the network is continuing to push for contactless is to pay for transit fares.

MaaS Global CEO: Transit Agencies Should Not Control MaaS Platforms

Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of Finland-based MaaS Global, agrees with most other industry experts that public transit should form the “core” of the mobility services on offer in any MaaS app or platform. But he contends that it would be a mistake for the agency itself to control the platform.

Case Study: German City First to Go Live with Check-in/be-out System in Country

Despite the growing popularity of contactless, NFC and QR-code technologies for electronic fare-collection, some transit agencies are experimenting with other technologies to collect fares.