NFC morphs the wallet and the mobile phone
By Mike Hanlon
February 5, 2007
The mobile phone is taking society by storm. Currently, one third of all the people on the planet carry a mobile phone, just a quarter century after its introduction. In just over three years time, we’ll pass the half way mark, and we expect the world will be a very different place a decade from now as the mobile phone takes on ever more remarkable qualities and function. And with sales of mobiles heading for the one billion a year, mobile phones are heading for ubiquity. Although more and more features are packed in every year, the mobile phone is still a long way from achieving its full potential. In tomorrow’s world, things we do every day, like paying at the till, buying a ticket for the bus or entering competitions, will all go through your mobile phone…using NFC technology. NFC stands for ‘near field communication’, a short-range wireless connectivity technology that enables two peripheral devices to exchange data via radiofrequency 13.56 MHz @ 424 Kbps) – i.e. without physical contact – over short distances of up to 5m. NFC technology has been approved as an ISO, ECMA and ETSI standard.Sagem is already trialing this exciting technology in Europe and would like to keep you abreast of the possibilities. NFC is not a new technology, and certain underground rail systems have already implemented it via contactless rail passes to offer seamless walk-through travel rather than turnstiles, making the system quicker and more convenient. However, when it is built into mobile phones, it could have a dramatic impact and open up huge potential for new applications.
NFC won’t work on just any old phone, though. There are a couple of technical criteria that have to be met to ensure the system works smoothly. First off, NFC has to be able to work within the mobile phone without power – after all, how would you use your mobile as a metro ticket if your mobile phone was out of battery? The next step is to secure all NFC-ready applications – you won’t use your mobile phone as a payment card unless you’re guaranteed the process is secure. To work effectively, the phone requires several applications operating seamlessly side-by-side, so that your mobile can be a payment card, travel pass, and a loyalty card, all at the same time.
Using your phone to pay for goods and services
How does it work? Simple. You start by swishing your phone across a reader. There will be a visual and a sound signal to tell you that a connection has been established with your telephone.
You then type your pin code on the phone, which displays the amount to be debited. To complete the transaction, you swish the phone a second time across the reader to get payment confirmation. This is a solution that can be used for any kind of payment, regardless of the figures involved.
In contactless mode, NFC technology operates over very short distances, so short in fact that there is zero interference, and no need to go through the mobile phone network. It is a solution where the phone user has to physically move the phone over a reader.
With the SAGEM my700X ContactLess, you can make fast and secure payments in a flash. At the beach, at the corner store, or at the gym… you will be able to pay using your mobile phone and you can leave your money at home!
Since November 2006, 200 Strasbourg-based customers of one of the top banks in France have been issued with SAGEM my700X ContactLess phones which they are using to pay for goods and services at local outlets ranging from cinemas and restaurants to major supermarkets.
Paying for public transport
The SAGEM my700X ContactLess makes it easier to use public transport, because it can act like a travel ticket. If the phone’s switched off, or even just out of battery, you still just swipe the phone in front of the reader terminal to validate your ticket – the whole process is paperless. Plus there’s the added advantage that you can also choose to use your phone's web browser to pay the transport services provider online. That way, you’ll get an e-ticket sent to your mobile that covers the travelpass options you paid for – no more queuing or missing the bus because you don’t have a pre-pay ticket!
NFC technology paves the way for a whole range of spin-off services, like options for downloading local street maps by swiping the phone in front of a ‘smart street map’ (which is a street map incorporating a contactless chip), real-time traffic updates, or bus and train timetables, all of which make for easier, hassle-free use of travel services.
Scheduled for early 2007, 200 customers in Grenoble will be trialing the system via a scheme promoted by a partnership between local transport services and a mobile network operator. Passengers will be testing 'TAG' travel passes recorded on their SAGEM my700X ContactLess mobiles throughout the Grenoble public transport system, which offers 3 tramway lines and 28 bus lines serving a 310 km2 area covering 26 local communes and a population of over 40,000.
Receiving position-sensitive information
With a SAGEM my700X ContactLess mobile, it will soon be possible to instantly pick up all kinds of information as you pass by NFC-enabled hubs and terminals, like poster displays or even advertising terminals.
For example, a possible scenario would be that you could swipe your mobile across a cinema billboard and instantly receive useful info, such as where the film is showing, screening times and schedule, trailers and teasers. You would access this info via either the Internet (using the mobile’s WAP browser), a phone-call link-up (triggered automatically), or an SMS.
SAGEM my700X ContactLess, NFC-enabled by Sagem Communication
The SAGEM my700X ContactLess is the first milestone in SAGEM’s drive to develop a mobile services offer that exploits contactless technologies. SAGEM’s technological know-how and skills expertise are being turned to SAGEM phone users, and the design brief is simple: to make life easier.
At the same time, SAGEM is also dedicated to providing consumers with an even wider offer, which means giving them the opportunity to get their hands on an attractive, straightforward, feature-packed mobile phone. In real terms, the result will be new phones bundling NFC (near-field communication) technology integrated into ranges across the board.
Sagem has risen to these challenges with the SAGEM my700X ContactLess mobile phone - so you can still pay even if you left our wallet at home, or take public transport without a ticket. One thing you’ll be even less likely to leave behind is your mobile phone!
About the SAGEM my700X ContactLess
The SAGEM my700X ContactLess multimedia features include a 1.3 megapixel camera, MP3 player, FM radio, video player for streaming and fast downloading, plus SMS, MMS, and a WAP-enabled web browser.
Sporting Bluetooth connectivity, it also boasts a high-definition (176x220 pixel) 262K color display, making it a joy to use.
But what really makes the SAGEM my700X ContactLess stand out is that it twins up a GSM antenna with an NFC chip in one, elegantly designed package.
At present the SAGEM my700X ContactLess handset is only available in Europe.