SIMalliance Releases new Technical Guidelines for Mobile NFC Payments

The SIMalliance is a global nonprofit industry association that aims to simplify the implementation of secure elements (SE) to drive secure mobile services. The association body recently published a report citing UICC configuration for mobile NFC payments. The document provides instructions facilitating system integration and reduction in fragmentation among NFC service providers, mobile network operators (MNOs) and other mobile-NFC-payment stakeholders. The document also highlights the SIMalliance’s recommendations for feature requirement for mobile NFC payments.

The document addresses feature requirements relative to telecoms, NFC, over-the-air management, access control, and memory and payment applications. The document cites how the coexistence of mobile NFC payment and a nonpayment application can affect the UICC. The UICC is nothing but your regular SIM card capable of supporting cellular networks along with memory capabilities in the order of few hundred kilobytes. The newly released configuration complies with those published by EMVCo, GlobalPlatform and the GSMA.

SIMalliance’s new UICC Configuration for Mobile NFC Payments acts as a technical ‘how to’ guide for service providers and MNOs wishing to use a UICC to offer mobile NFC payments, said Frederic Vasnier, chairman of the SIMalliance, in a press release. It helps stakeholders navigate their way through a complex landscape of existing NFC and payments related specifications and standards to determine what is absolutely necessary and relevant in this payments use case. In doing so, it provides one clear, consistent and universal definition of optimal UICC configuration, to facilitate interoperability and ease integration across the entire ecosystem.

The market is booming. The SIMalliance has reported that, in the second quarter of 2014, globally the number of NFC-enabled SIMs shipped rose 159% year-on-year, to 78m. The strongest market was Japan/South Korea, with 37m shipments, followed by North America, with 24m. Market growth for NFC-enabled SIMs was reported across North America, Greater China, Pacific Asia, Japan/South Korea and Europe. One hundred twenty-four million NFC-enabled SIMs have been shipped in the past three years. Also, the growing base of NFC-enabled phones and POS terminals indicates that a far-reaching and stable infrastructure is in place for the continued rollout of NFC services globally.

Here is an illustration from the published report highlighting mobile NFC payments services:

The development of new NFC services has resulted in the appearance of a variety of new players on the NFC landscape. Providers of payment, identification and other services are creating new opportunities for added value in the mobile market. As new partnerships, networks and services are established, the need for interoperability across the mobile NFC ecosystem has become increasingly important, yet it remains one of the biggest challenges the market faces.