The cards "will be sold where consumers buy memory cards today, including retail merchants and major network operators as well as new locations such as mass transit kiosks and financial institution branch locations," says First Data, and "SideTap MicroSD cards may also come pre-bundled in handsets."
"This is a significant partnership as First Data is committed to mobile commerce and is a leader in the payment industry serving more than five million merchant locations, 2,000 card issuers, and millions of consumers worldwide," says the official announcement.
"The partnership enables a neutral mobile commerce solution to be deployed to millions of consumers," it continues. "Tyfone's technology will support First Data's provisioning role, of a trusted service manager (TSM) using SideTap cards as a neutral secure element... First Data and Tyfone will soon begin the process of working with issuers to enable them to offer mobile contactless payments to their customers. Trials will begin as early as mid-2010."
The news follows Tyfone's announcement earlier this month that it has now completed pre-production testing and is gearing up for mass production during the second half of 2010 and Visa's announcement in February that it is to begin field testing DeviceFidelity's MicroSD NFC solution from the second quarter of this year.
"First Data chose Tyfone's SideTap memory card because it best serves the needs of consumers who want to use contactless payment options with over the air access but still want to retain the memory card functionality of their MicroSD card," says First Data's Dom Morea.
"The move to contactless payments is gaining traction," Morea explains. "Consumers have a strong preference for such technology and merchants are using contactless payments to reduce waiting times, increase customer loyalty, and boost sales."
"While the technology may first be released for the US market it has worldwide appeal and is not restricted by geography," he told NFC World. "A fully payments-capable MicroSD with an integrated antenna and memory capabilities is a large milestone towards providing mobile commerce capabilities to the significant population of existing and future mobile phones that are MicroSD capable."
"Tyfone is a technology leader in mobile solutions and brings hardware and software expertise in MicroSD technology, secure element integration and antenna design," Morea continues. "First Data brings expertise in security, payment account provisioning, personalization and account management."
First Data will offer three versions of Tyfone's SideTap MicroSD card to customers, each able to support both Mifare transport ticketing applications and any GlobalPlatform-compliant payments application such as credit, debit, closed loop, prepaid and gift cards:
- The standard SideTap memory card, which offers an initial 1GB of user memory as well as the contactless payments functionality.
- SideTap Lite, which includes OTA provisioning capability but has no additional user memory.
- SideTap Ultralite, a low cost option without additional memory or OTA capabilities, aimed at closed loop applications.
"We expect that these cards will be sold where consumers buy memory cards today, including retail merchants and major network operators as well as new locations such as mass transit kiosks and financial institution branch locations," say the partners. "SideTap MicroSD cards may also come pre-bundled in handsets."
"For consumers, a SideTap MicroSD card is expected to cost about the same as a standard MicroSD card of the same capacity," they add.
"With over 60% of the mobile phones being sold today with memory slots, memory cards are widely used in the mobile eco-system, making it an ideal form factor for issuers to add contactless payment," explains Dr Siva Narendra, Tyfone's chief technology officer. "However, consumers are unlikely to swap between memory card for payment and storage in their phones. So our SideTap cards integrate storage and contactless payments in the same memory card to enhance consumer's experience."
"Mobile phone users are familiar with memory cards, many of which are bought directly from their mobile network operators," Narendra adds.
"The promise of MicroSD card-powered technology to drive contactless payments is profound, with the ability to very quickly enable mobile transactions for businesses and their customers," adds Henri Ardevol, general manager of secure transactions at NXP, whose SmartMX chips power the SideTap devices.