HEADLINE NEWS

Identive to Restructure; Keeps NFC Products Intact

Identive Group, a secure ID and NFC tag and reader maker, has announced it will cut 11% of its global workforce as part of restructuring expected to save up to $5 million this year.

Discover Financial’s Emerging Payments Chief Departs for Barclaycard

Farhan Ahmad, who headed U.S.-based Discover Financial Services’ prepaid and emerging payments units, including its nascent NFC and contactless programs, has left Discover for UK-based issuer Barclaycard, NFC Times has learned.

Chip Maker Marvell to Demo High-Speed Wi-Fi Chip with NFC

U.S.-based Marvell Technology Group has announced that it will begin demonstrating its planned high-speed Wi-Fi chip incorporating NFC for fast pairing of ultrabooks, tablets, gaming consoles and smart TVs.

New Zealand Payments Provider and Telco Launch NFC Service on Newly Released Galaxy S III

In what is believed the first use of Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, for NFC mobile payment, consumers in New Zealand can tap the Android phone to pay for bus and taxi rides, as well as small retail purchases.

UK Post Office Announces Large Rollout of Contactless Terminals

The UK Post Office has announced it will start equipping more than 11,500 branches nationwide with contactless terminals next month, which would make it the biggest single merchant accepting contactless payment in Europe.

London Oyster Card Chief: NFC Not Ready for Fast-Paced Fare Payment

LONDON – The head of London’s large Oyster card program expressed frustration with the pace of development of NFC, complaining the technology isn’t ready for London transit riders to use to pay fares.

UK Bus Operator Trials NFC Tickets with Orange UK

Mobile operator Orange UK and bus company Stagecoach have launched a small transit ticketing trial, which they say could lead to a national rollout next year.

VeriFone, Equinox Announce Deal with PayPal for POS Terminal Support; NFC Possible Later

May 24 2012 (All day)

Point-of-sale terminal supplier VeriFone is the second major POS terminal vendor to announce a deal to support PayPal’s in-store payment system in its devices.

Transport for London Blames Complexities for Missing Olympics Deadline for Open-Loop Payment

Transport for London has confirmed it will miss its deadline for accepting open-loop credit and debit card payments on London buses in time for the start of the Summer Olympics.

NFC Trial at French Airport to Test SIM-Based Security Passes

May 24 2012 (All day)

Fifty passengers at French regional airport Toulouse-Blagnac will test an application that puts a security pass to access airport facilities on SIM cards in BlackBerry NFC phones.

ZTE: Europe is Next Target for NFC Phones

China-based phone maker ZTE indicated it will be targeting Europe with its NFC phones, although it did not specify models or release dates.

Intel: ‘NFC Not a Passing Fancy;’ Chip Giant Prepares to Push NFC in Phones and Other Devices

All handsets based on chip giant Intel’s current smartphone reference device will carry embedded secure elements in addition to supporting applications on SIM cards.

Apple Rumors Aside, Watch for Samsung M-Commerce; Google Wallet 2.0

As bloggers and analysts speculate ad nauseum about Apple’s possible NFC mobile-payment plans, they have been missing signs that another big handset maker is gearing up to enable NFC payment from its phones.

Samsung Electronics, which recently dethroned Nokia as the No. 1 phone maker worldwide and which probably sold more smartphones than Apple during the first quarter, definitely has its eye on using embedded secure chips in its future NFC phones.

Both Samsung and Netherlands-based chip maker NXP Semiconductors have confirmed over the past few days that Samsung is putting an embedded chip in its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S III. Samsung could own this chip in certain markets.

That is a change from the NFC chip Samsung included in its popular Galaxy S II, which can only support secure NFC applications in SIM cards. Samsung included the NFC chip in the Galaxy S II only when ordered by telcos.

It appears Samsung will include the embedded secure element in all Galaxy S III units, since the chip comes stacked as part of NXP’s PN65N NFC chip Samsung ordered for the model.

Moreover, a Samsung source told NFC Times the handset maker plans to embed secure elements in all of its NFC phones. The handset maker hasn’t officially confirmed that yet, however.

Unlike the constant stream of rumors about Apple–stoked again recently by news of yet another NFC-related patent that Apple might never act on–Samsung is making concrete moves toward taking a greater role in the mobile-commerce ecosystem.

The handset maker continues to expand its Seoul-based m-commerce unit under Victor Kim, a former director of mobile payment for Visa Inc. in Asia-Pacific. One recent staff addition to the team has experience with Samsung Group’s U.S.-based trusted service management unit, SK C&C, although the m-commerce unit might hire another TSM.

As NFC Times reported in March, Samsung plans to introduce both proximity and online payment and enable other payments service providers to do the same.

Among the offers could be a prepaid card that Samsung could issue itself or allow others to issue, including some smaller mobile operators. The payment service could be part of a Samsung mobile wallet. These payment applications would probably support the established payment schemes, Visa and MasterCard.

This is not to say that Samsung will no longer work with mobile operators to sell more NFC phones. It continues to see catering to telcos as key to its growth strategy.

If operators order phones with NFC chips supporting the single-wire protocol standard and SIM-based applications, Samsung is expected to provide them, including in the Galaxy S III. It could deactivate the embedded chip, a likely scenario in the U.S., where carriers call the shots.

Samsung is expected to target markets where telcos don’t control the distribution channels or phone features.

Meanwhile, all we have to go on for Apple’s m-commerce plans are more NFC-related patent applications or awards, including one recently for an “iWallet.”

It remains to be seen whether Apple acts on the patents in its next iPhone and puts an NFC chip inside. All that depends on whether Apple believes NFC technology and the contactless infrastructure are mature enough.

Apple, of course, would be the ultimate OTT, or over-the-top, player if it jumped into the mobile-payments market, and that prospect continues to haunt mobile operators and banks.

Google Wallet 2.0
Telcos and banks have already had to deal with Google and its wallet, which the Web giant launched last September, meeting resistance from operators, merchants and some financial institutions.

The result has been a disappointing debut for Google’s much-touted NFC service.

Now Google Wallet chief Osama Bedier is working on a Google Wallet 2.0 strategy that will make use of the company’s acquisition of New York-based TxVia, announced early last month, NFC Times has learned.

TxVia provides a payments platform for processing a range of prepaid cards, including general purpose and gift cards, as well as payroll and government disbursement cards. 

Details are sketchy, but I’m told by a couple of sources that Bedier, who hails from online payments company PayPal, wants to move the Google Wallet more toward the PayPal concept of mobile payments at the physical point-of-sale. That would be a more of a cloud-based approach, while keeping an NFC component for the wallet.

It’s noteworthy that former TxVia CEO Anil Aggarwal has assumed the post of global head of payments business development at Google.

Bedier, however, did not reveal many details in his recent announcement of the TxVia acquisition, though he did note that TxVia, which Google has been working with over the past year, has connections with the major payment networks. As such, it could move Google to its “full Google Wallet vision,” he said.

It remains to be seen just how Bedier and Google plan to restructure the wallet, but the strategy sessions have been going on for some time.

And as Samsung’s brand blossoms in the minds of consumers, the handset maker could, in a sense, become another OTT player if it moves forward strongly with its own m-commerce strategy.