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Compatible with existing infrastructure

Week 09, 2010

After years of technical and marketing efforts, the industry has to admit NFC did not develop as we expected. Probably one of the reasons is the lack of infrastructure. Indeed, many mass transit systems have installed control gates supporting Mifare or FeliCa, and Visa and MasterCard have played a role in establishing a contactless infrastructure: MasterCard claims there are 174,000 merchants worldwide accepting PayPass. But, one cannot say the contactless infrastructure has reached a sufficient density to be considered universal.

Now, we see the Chinese promoters of the RF-SIM having a total different approach: they develop a means for a handset to communicate contactless on a 2.4 GHz frequency. Involved companies, Directel, China Elite, EastComPeace, and Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics, say the RF-SIM is compatible with every handset, and needs the development of a new reader infrastructure. Remains to see if it is actually compatible with every handset, if consumption issues are solved (the RF-SIM is only powered by the handset battery), if radio frequency words all right, etc. The RF-SIM idea is to build on more than 4 billion existing handsets rather than hundreds of thousands of contactless readers.

Another alternative is to try to make NFC compatible with both existing handsets and existing contactless terminals. Sagem Orga just announced during the MWC SIMFi, its WiFi based solution to bring NFC capability to any handset, and Twinlinx proposes a Bluetooth based solution. Both of them are said to be compatible with all handsets and to bring the capability to make full NFC transactions.

Indeed, we want to be compatible with the existing infrastructure, but which one?

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief Editor

Smart Insights