A team of researchers from NFC Research Lab Hagenberg is working on an alternative approach to using card emulation mode for NFC ticketing applications.
The concept holds the potential of enabling NFC ticketing systems to be implemented without the need to make use of a secure element — although, the researchers warn, there are issues with overall security that need to be addressed before the approach could be used commercially.
The Inverse Reader Mode concept, as the name suggests, involves switching around the roles played by the NFC phone and the transportation ticketing equipment. In the Hagenberg model, the NFC phone works in read/write mode and the ticketing system uses card emulation mode.
The researchers tested out the concept using a PC as the ticketing server and an Android NFC phone running the ticketing app. The NFC reader, connected to the PC, acted as an RF front end to exchange APDU commands with the phone in order to verify a user's ticket.
"The Inverse Reader mode uses the same technology on the physical side as the normal reader mode, thus it will be as fast as the state-of-the-art systems," research associate Christian Saminger told NFC World.
"The transfer rate of the back end system depends on the implementation and the operating system, but that also applies to the normal reader mode."
"Small and medium-sized companies can benefit because they will not get access to the secure element of their customers' mobile phone in the near future," says Saminger. "It could be used in every NFC system, where there is a reader terminal on the sale side, so ticketing, vending, payments or loyalty schemes."
The Hagenburg team presented the Inverse Reader Mode concept at the Fifth International Workshop on Near Field Communication in Zurich, Switzerland last month. Readers can download the presentation slides in PDF format from the event's website.