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Amex drops its key fobs

Week 15, 2008

On the other hand, it can be seen as a positive sign. After a phase of expanding in all directions, or exploring all form factors, the industry is refocusing on a more standardized approach. As an industry we all know standards allow for more interoperability.

So actually, abandoning key fobs means the contactless payment industry is going to concentrate on the usual card form factor, and on NFC handsets. Having less form factor choice will offer a clearer offer to cardholders. It will allow a quicker development for the industry. All customer reports already mention customers using contactless payment tools are very happy with them, once they overcome skimming concerns. The traditional card from factor allows an easy integration process with existing infrastructure, both at manufacturing and personalization stage, and on the field. Traditional cards easily combine multiple technologies: contactless, contact and magstripe, allow for a smoother evolution of the merchant base.

Handsets are deemed to be the next "form factor". There is a common conclusion to all NFC field tests: customers love them! On the other hand, when NFC takes off, it will become the primary target of hackers, as promises Karsten Nohl, the Mifare Classic breaker.

So after all, dropping an alternate form facto means good news for the industry.

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights