The payments processing giant has signed a deal with Korea's SK C&C, responsible for the technology behind SK Telecom's mobile contactless payments service, and will begin offering a turnkey NFC payments service to US banks from the first quarter of 2011.
The two companies will deliver a complete set of mobile commerce services to First Data's financial institution and merchant customers, including a TSM (trusted service manager) platform and mobile wallet software. Credit, debit, prepaid and gift cards will all be supported.
SK C&C is part of the $85bn SK Group, the South Korean conglomerate that also owns SK Telecom. The mobile commerce solutions developer has offered TSM, mobile wallet and mobile banking services in the South Korean market since 2002, where it supplies the technology underpinning SK Telecom's T Smart Pay service. It is also involved in a deal SK Telecom signed with Japanese mobile operators KDDI and Softbank in July that will see the trio work together to move to a NFC-standard approach for their mobile contactless services.
First Data has been moving toward NFC for some time. Earlier this year the company signed up Tyfone's microSD-based NFC solution, which it will offer to consumers to accelerate the arrival of NFC-based mobile commerce. The new service will act as the back end and will be able to handle 'bridging technologies' and alternative secure element form factors as well as SIM-based NFC. "We can support microSD — for example, Tyfone — embedded secure elements and NFC-enabled SIMs," a First Data spokesperson confirmed to NFC World.
Visa, meanwhile, is testing DeviceFidelity's similar microSD-based product and stated earlier this month that it will also be commercially ready early in 2011.
First Data's mobile commerce offering will roll out in the US initially and is planned to eventually go worldwide. The company processes payments for millions of merchant locations and thousands of card issuers in 36 countries.