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SIMdrowning or SIM rising?

Week 08, 2010

Now, the SIM is playing a central role in the development of applications on mobile handsets. The SIM is the item that represent’s the mobile network operator in the hands of the subscriber. So the SIM card industry is pushing for more services on the SIM card. We are now in a race between handset vendors and SIM suppliers to determine who will be able to deliver the best added value, and the best convenience for the subscriber. At the end of the day, this race benefits to the end-user who is offered an always more extensive array of services.

The evolution is also the ability to integrate in new handsets another removable part, the microSD card. There have never been so many announcements of developments in a microSD card form factor. As the SIM has regulatory and standards-related constraints, the trend is to allow more applications on an SD (or microSD) card. With a microSD card, the end-user is given a second removable device, so that he can easily realize that the SIM belongs to the MNO and the microSD card belongs to someone else.

Now, we see microSD cards popping up from many sources:

  • G&D launches several projects of microSD cards, targeting enterprise security and NFC functions,
  • Visa is launching a microSD card as a means to perform micropayments from a handset,
  • certgate has been present for long with the microSD form factor to provide security and cryptographic functions for smart phones,
  • SanDisk, the founder and leader in quantity of the microSD format, is now coming up with microSD cards with additional security functions,
  • And, in the US, Tyfone, just reaffirmed its commitment to NFC-enabled microSD cards.

Having two removable devices allows for a clear separation of responsibilities. Especially for NFC projects, where we’ve been slowed down by issues like “who’s responsible if a transaction fails?” or “when NFC is not working, should I call the operator or the bank?”, having two removable modules within a single handset provides a split of responsibilities easily understandable for every user.

So the future SIM can be back to its role of mobile network operator representation in the handset, whole the microSD is to be the representative of the financial institution or other third parties in the handset.

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief Editor

Smart Insights