Dutch banks and operators agree to common mobile payments platform

Mobile payment services in Europe have received a significant boost following an agreement by the three largest Dutch banks and mobile phone operators to use NFC and SIM-based security as a common standard.

The six companies involved--Rabobank, ING, ABN AMRO, KPN, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile--said they would form a joint venture to bring contactless payment to the Netherlands by 2012. The group added that this initiative was the first time in Europe that banks and mobile operators had joined together to collectively enable mobile payments.

The aim of the deal is to enable consumers to hold their phones against a point-of-sale terminal in shops and pay using NFC and secure data stored inside the phone's SIM.

However, while handset-based mobile payments are commonplace in Japan and trials have taken place in Europe and the US, handset manufacturers have remained less than enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Nokia produced two handsets supporting integrated NFC, but has since stopped distribution, although several other vendors are now said to be considering supporting NFC more seriously than before.

The system proposed by the six Dutch firms places the secure element in the SIM card, which will require handsets to support the Single Wire Protocol (SWP) as well as the NFC standard. The SWP specification was published around two years ago, but other than a few trials using customised handsets little has been made public about its success.

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