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3 million RF-SIMs for China Telecom

Thursday 18 February 2010

The first RF-SIMs are already available from China Mobile stores and can be purchased for a one-off fee of CNY 150 (EUR 16). Subscribers can then simply replace their existing SIM with the new RF SIM and instantly begin to use their existing phone to make payments at the point of sale. Wu-Mart stores, a large Chinese retail group has announced its partnership with China Mobile. Subscribers equipped with the new RF SIMs will be able to use their phones to make payments, collect loyalty points and recharge their account balance at three hundred WuMart and MerryMart supermarkets in the Beijing area. Shoppers will be able to spend up to CNY 500 (EUR 53) per transaction in the stores. And China Mobile Beijing is said to be in talks to expand RF-SIM acceptance to public transport.

The so-called RF-SIMs communicate on the 2.4 GHz frequency, which makes them incompatible with the NFC standard, which uses 13.56 MHz for compatibility with the existing infrastructure reasons. Of course, due to this difference in frequency, these developments are incompatible with the NFC standard, and the installed base used for reading contactless cards and transport tickets. The choice of using 2.4 GHz allows to have the antenna integrated in the SIM itself. RF-SIM promoters claim that with the 2.4 GHz frequency, the signal goes easily through the phone casing, and is readable up to 5 meters. The antenna is used only for communication, and is not a source of power by induction as is the case in the NFC standard. As a consequence, the RF-SIM becomes inoperative if the phone battery is down. Directel says the RF-SIM can be implemented in any handset, without any modification or compatibility issues.

China Mobile announces it has placed an order for 3 million of these RF-SIMs from Directel, a company incorporated in Cayman Island and Hong Kong in 2002 and established its branches in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan, in China. Directel, through its subsidiary China-Hong Kong Telecom Limited, started as a service provider, providing the “Multi-SIM” roaming service in Hong Kong with the license of MVNO and ETS and the cooperation with Hutchison Telecom, PCCW and China Unicom.

The RF-SIM, developed by China Elite, a sister company of Directel is promoted as being able to perform all functions of regular smart cards: Standard SIM function, E-purse (with PBOC 2.0 support),E-payment, E-tickets, E-passport, ID authentication, physical access control, etc. The three million cards for China Mobile will be manufactured by Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology, a semi conductor manufacturer (JCET), a major Chinese semiconductor packaging subcontractor, with a capacity of 25 billion discrete packages, 7.5 billion IC packages and 60 million SiP packages in 2009.