|SIM Based NFC: A New Way of Business|
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) has come a long way in serving each and every individual as a key enabler for their mobile phones to have a life and to be able to connect to a network. If we can still recall during the first wave of mobile technologies, the SIM card would work just like your normal identification card, wherein you are associated to a certain combination of numbers that is identifiable only to you for you to be able to call or send an SMS.
However, as we moved towards converged technologies, accessing our internet via our handheld devices was also made possible. This time the SIM card became our regulator wherein it is the one thing that determines the capacity and capabilities of our phone numbers and to which subscription plan we are paying for in terms of accessing the internet. But all of these are just small pieces of what a SIM card can do for us.
Just recently it was bestowed upon by the GSMA a new task and responsibility and that is equipping itself with capabilities of a near field communication. Near Field Technologies papers as well as other projects have been done since early 2007 and numerous testing with different MNOs has been done to make sure that technology will be incorporated to majority of the handheld devices across the globe.
Tapping the SIM
In relation to this, one of the early projects that can be associated with NFC is the Pay-Buy-Mobile; it is the first GSMA initiative in making test runs in using mobile phones to make fast, secure payments in a retail environment using Near Field Communications (NFC)/contactless technology. But as tests continued to be conducted, at the back of head of the individual who promulgated the initiatives, concern for the security of information was still a major concern. It was noted that handheld device will serve like a wallet and that it has the capacity to do monetary transactions, such as to buy goods and pay for bills.
Due to the utmost concern on security, the GSMA and many of its operators have recommended the use of the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC), commonly known as the SIM card. They said that the good thing about the card is that it can be divided into security domains thus allowing third-party service providers the ability to manage and operate the services independent of the MNO. The UICC securely stores the subscriber identity. In fact in recent years, the UICC have rapidly become ever more sophisticated, containing enhanced processing power, much increased memory and extended security management functionality. It was highlighted that UICC offers an ideal environment, therefore, into which the Pay-Buy-Mobile application could be installed. The test mainly focuses on credit and debit card applications hosted on the UICC in the mobile phone.
Several recent trials around the world show early signs of the success of mobile NFC payments and the trials have concluded and created customer demand and anticipation of NFC M-Payment because the services that it can respond to will create not only convenience for consumer but as well as streamlining of business process.
45 Operators Committed to SIM Based NFC
On its latest development, the GSMA backed by 45 of its member telecom operators, the group has agreed to embed the NFC chip to the SIM card. The move paved the way for a universal usage of the NFC across the globe. China Mobile and China Unicom are two giants who favored the move. Other operators includes America Movil, AT&T, AVEA, Axiata, AXIS, Bharti Airtel, Bouygues Telecom, CSL, Deutsche Telekom, Elisa Corporation, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC (du), Etisalat, Everything Everywhere, Globe Telecom, KPN, KT Corporation, Maxis, Mobily, MTS, Orange, Proximus, Qtel Group, Rogers Communications, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), SFR, SK Telecom, Smart, SOFTBANK MOBILE, Telecom Italia, Telecom New Zealand, Telecom Slovenije, Telefonica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Telus, TMN, Turkcell, Verizon, VimpelCom, VIVA Bahrain and Vodafone Group. Additionally are ISIS, the organization formed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. The Association plans to make the whole world of mobile phones NFC enabled irrespective of the mobile device, region or the wireless carrier.
In relation to this, according to recent research, it shows that the market potential for SIM-based is big. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, nearly 1.5 billion SIM-based handsets will have been sold worldwide between 2010 and 2016, supporting transactions of more than $50 billion globally over the same period. Furthermore, ABI Research indicates that 85% of all new point of sale terminals shipped in 2016 will be NFC-enabled.
IATA and SIM-NFC
Aside from banking and retail outlets, one of the key industries that would benefit from the SIM-based NFC is the tourism and travel industry. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) along with the GSM Association has joined forces to highlight the importance and the opportunities where SIM based NFC will be useful in terms of the air travel industry. On a recent report published by the group, they’ve noted that by enabling the travel industry with NFC access points will be beneficial to airlines, airport authorities and air travelers as well. Some of the important air travel procedures that may use SIM based NFC are Passenger check-in , Baggage check-in, Security check-point, Lounge access, Boarding and Post-flight processes.
To highlight it, a sample case was discussed in terms of Passenger check-in. According to the report self-service check-in is now widely developed and available within the air transport industry and IATA estimates that by 2013, 70% of passengers will use one of the three self-service channels (i.e. kiosk, web, mobile) to check-in. The current process involves passengers obtaining their boarding pass in variety of ways, such as: paper document, email, SMS, MMS, email etc. All of these modes use the IATA BCBP (Bar Coded Boarding Pass) standard.
All boarding passes include a 2D bar code that is used as a token and read at various process points at the airport. And it is where SIM-based NFC can bring significant additional benefits to this process as it will replace the physical bar code image while keeping the standardized data structure in the NFC chip. Passengers will use one of the existing self-service channels to perform their check-in transaction. Once check-in is complete, passengers will obtain their NFC boarding token over the air (OTA).The boarding pass data will be securely stored in the NFC mobile handset. The key benefits for these are passengers will not have to carry a paper document to go through the various airport touch points or to board the aircraft at the gate as the boarding pass information is stored locally in the mobile NFC phone. It will be beneficial to the passengers since they don’t need to carry documents, they will only have to present their mobile NFC phone in close proximity to the target reader for the boarding pass data to be read. In addition, once the NFC boarding pass is stored in the chip, the mobile phone doesn’t need to have network connectivity or to be switched on in order to read the data. Roaming or flat battery issues will not be a problem for mobile boarding pass users.
These are just sample cases wherein SIM-based bases will be beneficial. And it is expected that more and more processes will be optimized once it is implemented. Enabling SIM with NFC not only allows us to be connected it would soon evolve in helping us we do our daily business, in a fast reliable and secure way through our handheld devices, anytime and anywhere.