The GSMA has issued a statement outlining a commitment by leading global mobile network operators — many of whom have not previously been involved in NFC — to launch commercial services in 2012. “The operator community is focused on driving the standardised deployment of mobile NFC, using the SIM as the secure element to provide authentication, security and portability,” says the announcement.
“Many of the world’s leading operators, including America Movil, Axiata Group Berhad, Bharti, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT Corporation, MTS, Orange, Qtel Group, Softbank Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor and Vodafone, have voiced their commitment to implementing Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, and intend to launch commercial NFC services in select markets by 2012,” according to a statement issued by mobile network operator’s association the GSMA today.
“NFC is perhaps best known for its role in enabling mobile payments, but its applications go far beyond that,” says Franco Bernabe, chairman of the GSMA and CEO of Telecom Italia. “NFC represents an important innovation opportunity, and will facilitate a wide range of interesting services and applications for consumers, such as mobile ticketing, mobile couponing, the exchange of information and content, control access to cars, homes, hotels, offices car parks and much more.”
“The market potential for NFC is significant — according to Frost & Sullivan, the total payment value for NFC globally will reach more than euro 110bn in 2015 — and momentum behind the technology is growing rapidly,” says the statement.
The statement then continues with what is, in many ways, the most interesting part of the announcement for those tracking NFC on a regular basis: “To address this opportunity and to provide valuable new services to mobile users worldwide, the operator community is focused on driving the standardised deployment of mobile NFC, using the SIM as the secure element to provide authentication, security and portability,” it explains.
“To achieve this, the GSMA will develop the necessary certification and testing standards to ensure global interoperability of NFC services,” it adds. “This interoperability is critical to the widespread adoption of NFC, enabling users to benefit from NFC services around the world, regardless of operator network or device type.”
“As we have seen, the adoption of different approaches to NFC will only serve to fragment the market,” says Bernabe. “By uniting around a single standardised approach to mobile NFC and by collaborating across the entire ecosystem, our industry will continue to develop the compelling services that customers demand.”
NFC World’s take: This is one of the strangest press releases we’ve seen yet. Does the announcement mean that “the world’s leading operators” have found an answer to the need for a viable business model for the launch of commercial NFC services? Or is it just that they are running scared of rival proposals due to arrive soon from the likes of Google, Apple and others? These are set to be based on the use of an embedded secure element, rather than the SIM — and hold the potential to cut the operators out of the NFC revenue chain altogether…