While the lack of near field communication handsets may be hampering widescale deployments of the payment technology, there are some companies carving a niche in supplying solutions that enable NFC payments on existing handsets.
DeviceFidelity’s microSD solution is being used in the Bank of America pilot in New York, says Deepak Jain, co-founder, CEO and president at DeviceFidelity. U.S. Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo in the U.S. as well as four major banks in France are also using the technology.
The company was founded three-years ago with the sole purpose of enabling payment on different mobile devices, Jain says. It delivered the first products in 2010.
The primary technology is a microSD card where the Visa-approved payment credential resides, Jain says. For the BlackBerry and Android devices the card is inserted into the device, the application downloaded and then a user can start making payments.
But DeviceFidelity also wanted a solution for the microSD-less iPhone, Jain says. It created an Apple-approved protective case that carries the microSD and can enable payments on the popular mobile device. Apple approved the cases in 2010 for the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4.
At the issuing bank’s discretion, the microSD cards can be personalized with the individual’s information prior to being sent to the consumer or over the air, Jain says. If the card is personalized before delivery the consumer does not need to have data service on their phone.
The application used to access the functionality of the microSD can either be downloaded from the app stores or from the microSD, Jain says. With the iPhone though it must be downloaded from the app story because of Apple’s requirements.
The application is also customized for the bank issuing the card, Jain says. Whether or not a PIN or passcode is necessary to transmit the payment information depends on the particular financial institution or the consumer, Jain says. On the touchscreen phones a bar must be slid across the screen before the payment information is transmitted.
Today, DeviceFidelity does not support other NFC use cases beyond payment, but they are on the company’s roadmap. “We’re waiting for a business case to emerge for supporting some of those additional features,” Jain says.
In the next year Jain says they will begin supporting other mobile operating systems and the cards will be available in retail stores.