A pan-European consortium of banks, companies, universities and user groups is teaming up to develop an open architecture for the deployment of near field communication (NFC) technology on mobile phones.
Co-funded by the European Commission (EU), the 'Store Logistics and Payment with NFC' (StoLPaN) project aims to define open commercial and technical frameworks for NFC-enabled services on mobile devices, regardless of the phone type.
The consortium includes financial services companies Banca Popolare di Vicenza, Consorzio Triveneto and Safepay Systems, as well as telecoms firms Motorola and T-Systems and consultancies Deloitte amd Consult Hyperion. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and Budapest Tech John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics are also involved in the project.
In order to address the interoperability issues affecting the use of NFC on mobile phones, various usage cases will be tested throughout Europe, says the group. The results of these will be used to establish a common set of business rules and standards. Based on these findings, the consortium will establish specifications for technical requirements for NFC-enabled applications.
The project team will also demonstrate how the new standards can be implemented in existing contactless infrastructures. A NFC host application will be developed to support a range of services, including use of the technology for payment, access control and ticketing.
Says Alan Wright, head of strategy and new business development at Motorola Devices Europe: "With NFC-enabled mobile devices you should soon be able to provide a variety of services, based on either the contactless interface or over-the-air-download, replacing the need for physical credit, loyalty, bank or transportation cards."
The first version of the NFC business rules and technical requirements are exepcted to be released by this summer.
Last year US-based ABI Research cut its projections for the number of mobile hand sets that will support NFC technology in 2011 because of challenges facing carriers in implementing a contactless payments business model.
The firm said the slow growth of the technology is due to challanges faced by mobile operators which are struggling to find viable methods of extracting value from the provision of contactless payment services.
However a number of financial services firms are already testing the use of NFC-enabled mobile phones for making low value payments. Card firms JCB, MasterCard and Visa are all conducting pilots of the technology. Earlier this week HSBC also said it was launching a pilot that would see its staff in the US test the use of NFC-enabled hpones for making small value purchases.