The latest wireless technology finding its way into mobile phones alongside Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is near field communication, or NFC. It has taken a few years but the short-range wireless technology is gathering speed, with the number of NFC-enabled handsets on the increase and numerous trials of the technology being carried out around the world, mainly aimed at contactless payments and public transport ticketing applications. But if you’re worried you’ll have to throw out your current mobile phone to take advantage of the convenience of NFC then relax, because Simlink has teamed with Morpho to develop a key fob that brings NFC technology to any existing mobile phone.

NFC is a set of short-range wireless technologies that allows mobile phones, or other devices, to collect data from another device or NFC tag at close range – usually 4 cm (1.5 in) or less. The major application for the technology is expected to be contactless payment, with MasterCard and VISA both members of the NFC Forum founded by Nokia, Sony and Philips in 2004 to advance the use of the technology in mobile devices, consumer electronics and PCs.

To ensure users won’t need to shell out for a new mobile phone to make use of NFC technology, Simlink has crammed all the necessary bits and pieces, along with a Morpho NFC-enabled SIM card, into a key fob that connects wirelessly with any mobile phone via Wi-Fi. “Equipped in this way, the key fob can help to deploy any kind of Near Field Communication service – such as mobile payment, mobile ticketing or loyalty services – enabled by an NFC SIM card, with any kind of Wi-Fi enabled mobile phone right now,” explained Paul Naldrett, Senior Vice President for Telecoms at Morpho.

And if you’re still clinging to an older phone that doesn’t boast built-in Wi-Fi, the key fob can connect to a phone using a Wi-Fi-enabled ConnectSIM card, also developed by Simlink parent company Sagem Orga and Telenor, which combines Wi-Fi functionality with the security of a SIM card.

No release date or pricing details have been announced, but live payment and ticketing demos of the key fob are being run at Mobile World Congress 2011 this week.