Nokia's C7 and N9 NFC phones are not equipped to support either an embedded secure element or an NFC SIM, the handset maker has told NFC World, so it won't be possible to use them for mobile payments or other secure NFC services.
Nokia is not supporting NFC mobile payments on the C7 and N9, its latest devices that include near field communication technology.
The lack of support for either an embedded secure element or for the Single Wire Protocol (SWP), which would provide support for an NFC SIM issued by a mobile network operator, means that the devices are unsuitable for use in secure NFC applications such as mobile wallet, ticketing and payments. Instead, Nokia is concentrating on the much more straightforward 'connectivity' aspect of NFC and pushing the technology's use for file sharing, device pairing and tag reading.
Nokia's C7 handset, released some nine months ago, includes NFC hardware but it is currently inactive. This summer, when the phone gets the Symbian Anna operating system upgrade, the NFC chip will be activated and end users will be able to start using their phones to read and write to NFC tags — but won't be able to use them for secure NFC services.
The recently announced Nokia N9 also contains NFC but again it does not have an embedded secure element or support for SWP.
Over the next 12 to 18 months Nokia is looking to the marketing aspects and potential of NFC, Rupert Englander, Nokia UK and Ireland's head of services, sales and marketing, explained to NFC World.
"Nokia's view is NFC is about more than just mobile payments," says Englander. "We're probably a little while away from being able to go into a shop and easily use our mobile phone to pay for things with NFC. We think the phone as the mobile wallet, where it's simple to buy and it just works, is 12 to 18 months away. There are various trials out there and some services, like Orange's Quick Tap, but there are restrictions, like you have to be an Orange subscriber, a Barclaycard customer, and can only shop in certain places.
"NFC mobile payments won't take off until these barriers go, and while the recently announced UK joint venture for NFC between Telefonica UK, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone will help take those barriers away, it will take time to come to fruition," he reasons.
On the C7, Englander adds: "There was no standard in place for secure NFC payment when the phone was in production, so I think rather than wait, Nokia put an open, unsecured chip in the device, and decided to go to market with open NFC propositions like tags and Bluetooth pairing."
"Using open NFC, we can get more people engaged in using their mobile phone in a fun way, getting them used to using their technology in this manner, and in the meantime we can get everything ready together for mobile payments."