NFC payments standard could sideline SIM card

The European Payments Council released new draft guidelines that ask the mobile and financial services communities to consider alternatives to the SIM card for providing contactless payment security.

In the past, the EPC worked closely with the GSMA to investigate how a contactless payment app could be embedded into the mobile operator's SIM card as a secure element. However, the latest EPC document asks those involved in the value chain to consider a much wider range of options--a position that could see the role of the mobile operator marginalised.

According to the EPC, which represents the European banking community, the new draft guidelines aim to establish confidence within the contactless payment environment by promoting the use of open standards.

While the SIM card approach is considered the most popular--and would directly involve the mobile operator--the EPC maintains that the quickest way to deploy would involve using microSD cards. This would see the issuing bank control the secure element, and, if the microSD card was fitted with NFC capabilities, integration with the cell phone and the mobile operator's internal system would be minimal.

However, this approach would mean the secure element within the microSD card would be blocked from interacting with the handset's screen and keyboard in a secure manner, thereby breaking EPC's key objective and possibly opening up the system to hacking.

To keep the approach to NFC-based contactless payments on an even keel, the EPC said it is working with other industry organisations with a strong interest in m-payments. This includes GlobalPlatform, which standardises applications on secure chip technology; the Mobey Forum, a global cross-industry banking forum; and the GSMA.

The EPC has called for feedback from stakeholders on these draft guidelines by the 17th of June. It has committed to releasing a final version of the document in October.

For more:
- see this The Register article
- see this Telecoms.com article
- see this Near Field Communications article

Related Articles:
Supermarkets preferred for m-payments, claim trial results
Consultancy Logica warns of introducing NFC solutions too soon
Visa Europe goes live with first microSD m-payment service
French operators to deploy 1m NFC phones in 2011

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