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Visa sticks NFC into a microSD card

MWC 2010 For mobile contactless payments
Wed Feb 17 2010, 15:00

CREDIT CARD ASSOCIATION Visa has partnered with Devicefidelity to create a microSD card capable of near field communications (NFC) for mobile contactless payments.

Tired of hanging around waiting for handset manufacturers to start sticking NFC chips into their phones, Visa has decided to bypass them altogether and instead create its own.

With a large percentage of today's phones packing a microSD slot for expandable storage, the move not only means that Visa has to wait for NFC enabled phones to start hitting the market, but that many of today's mobiles can become a payment device.

The deal combines Visa's Paywave service with Devicefidelity's In2pay technology. The microSD card approach is designed to work across multiple operating systems and uses a standard dual interface contactless smart card chip with an onboard software controlled antenna.

Although NFC in a credit card format is slowing gaining ground as a method of payment and access, incorporating it into the phone adds a number of advantages predominantly around enhanced services through the phone's interface.

We're assured that this method is as secure as hardwiring it into the phone itself. Furthermore, because we're all addicted to our phones, we usually notice very quickly when it is lost or stolen and being embedded in a connected device means that the card can be remotely locked and blocked very quickly and easily.

The downside here is that many of today's phones rely on having a few gigabytes of expandable storage available to store photos and other media, which can cause some problems if you want to replace this with a NFC enabled microSD card. Many devices will let you hot-swap the card, but given how tiny a microSD card is, it would be very easy to lose it if you were constantly switching it in and out of your phone.

The pair are also working with the likes of the CPI Card group, Inside Contactless, Monitise and NXP to help develop the technology and drive adoption. Trials are set to start in a few months time.

Visa, the GSM Association and a group of other partners have also been trialling a more traditional contactless mobile payment scheme at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year.

For the trial, 400 of the conference's attendees received Samsung Star NFC handsets containing Telefónica pre-paid SIM cards from O2 with €60 of airtime credit as well as a La Caixa Visa mobile payment application allowing them to pay for up to €75 worth of food and drink at over 30 merchant locations around the show grounds.

Also involved in the project is Giesecke & Devrient, which provides the SIM cards, and Ingenico, which equips the participating merchants with the necessary wireless payment terminals. µ


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