Meet the Monkey Awards Nominees – Trailblazing & Innovation

This is it – the last award category; Trailblazing and Innovation. This award is granted to those companies who the judges feel have done their best to look at this wonderful (and whacky!) world of contactless technology and give it a boost. Perhaps. Or a spin. Must be a new one though. Either way, we look for originality and innovation. The companies must forge new paths and, well, trail-blaze. Hence the name of the category. So who do we have this year?

  • NFC payment pilot using MicroSD cards, at Brigham Young University, Idaho – RFinity (US)
  • SmartPark – Monext (France)
  • NFC SIM-based trial during Mobile World Congress – ITN International (Spain)
  • NFC key fob – Sagem Orga (Germany)

First trailblazer is the NFC payment pilot using MicroSD cards, at Brigham Young University, Idaho –  RFinity (US)

In July 2009, a trial started at the Brigham Young University in Idaho, for students to utilse MicroSD cards in their own phones to make purchases using NFC capabilities. This was one of the first trials to use MicroSD cards for NFC payments and negates the need for NFC handsets. The trial uses a young customer base, who are technology savvy, so uptake should be high and  the trial should also provide secure transactions, which allays any parents’ concerns. RFinity says it is poised to revolutionize the way consumers pay for goods and services using just their cell phones and making purchases quicker, easier, more convenient, and vastly more secure than a credit card. This is possible because RFinity’s mobile payment technology suite empowers microSD-capable mobile devices enabling transactions at Point of Sale (POS) systems to easily and securely occur using one-time-use transaction codes.

The RFinity system is in a pilot deployment at Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYUI), which is located in Rexburg, Idaho.  Rexburg is ideal as it is a remote community with nearly 40,000 residents and students making it very hospitable to small businesses, which are more flexible than larger companies. BYUI was chosen for the pilot site due to their very progressive emphasis on business education and entrepreneurship.  A near-term phase of the pilot will facilitate mobile NFC payments with on-campus student businesses started up as part of the ‘capstone’ projects sponsored by the Dept. of Business Management.  The decision for BYUI to enter the RFinity pilot was made by the University President, Kim Clark – the Dean of the Faculty at Harvard Business School from 1995-2005.

The simplicity and security of making purchases using just a cell phone is highly attractive for consumers because of its speed, convenience, and security. RFinity system has received great reviews thus far for its device, as is demonstrated by the following user quotes (note:  QuickPay is a product name for RFinty):

“I love how fast and easy Quickpay is and it’s become a habit to take out my phone when I want to buy things instead of my wallet. I can’t wait for more places to use Quickpay. I like being able to only have to carry my phone, it’s so nice not to have to worry about carrying a wallet all the time.”

This first pilot was implemented with over 120 university students and faculty integrating the RFinity-enabled microSD card within their phones.  RFinity-enabled terminals were integrated on four cash registers within the university bookstore.  RFinity’s upcoming pilot will expand the user base to several thousand users, integrate off-campus banking, and incorporate several merchants within the university community. University students traditionally visit their university bookstore six times during each three-month semester.  With the introduction of the RFinity payment technology, it is faster and easier for students to make rapid purchases on the way to class.  This has resulted in an increased average of 30 transactions per student during that same three-month semester.

The current RFinity NFC payment pilot with university students has been augmented and will incorporate additional device types such as:  NFC labels, currently deployed contactless transportation cards, and key fobs.  This is done in a manner that does not alter or hinder any of those devices’ originally intended operations.  However, it does enable users to join the RFinity environment using an NFC device that they already have.

Our second nominee is for SmartPark – Monext (France)An 18 month project (12 months of preparation, 6 months pilot) planned for 2010/11 to utilise NFC capabilities for off-street parking in two strategic region “The Basse Normandie region” and “Ile de France”. Monetxt were nominated due to the innovative use of a variety of NFC technology. The scheme demonstrates close partnerships between public and private sector, which is vital to facilitate a trial of this size. The trial will take place in Caen, Normandy, France, due to its familiarity with contactless trials in the past.

Developed by Monext in association with VinciPark, SmartPark combines a range of contactless services that will be available in the off-street parking environment – payment (EasyPay), access control (EasyAccess), subscription (EasyPass), location services (EasyFind), multimedia offerings (EasyTouch) and concierge services (EasyPark). A back-end system will link the services to the NFC devices, enabling online subscription for users, OTA downloads and promotional activities (smart posters and couponing). The architecture will be SOA oriented and Cloud Computing based. A Saas application will available for both Users (to subscribe and manage their services on-line), and Service Providers (Service portfolio Management and API/Web Services).

There will be 3 types of payment on offer:

  • Payment at the ticket machines on site and parking exit barriers with a compliant contactless payment device (Mobile, Card, Sticker, USB stick)
  • Registering for the online Vinci PayWeb service, where credit card details + NFC device are linked to the PayWeb account and payment is deducted after using the NFC device to acknowledge leaving the parking
  • Optional (according to specification phase):

Pre-paid by loading of credit onto an NFC device before utilising the parking facility and then using the device to pay on leaving. The main services on offer will be EasyPay, EasyAccess and EasyPass to improve the parking experience. But users can opt for further services such as:

  • EasyFind – GPS locating of car parks and even tagging of free spaces within the car park
  • EasyTouch – Interactive multimedia accessible using the NFC device (e.g. smart posters, couponing)
  • EasyPark – renting bikes, securing belongings using NFC

The aim is to have 1,000 to 2,000 users, with a good cross-section of the population for each region (Basse Normandie and Ile de France, so Monext is targeting a population of 3,200 NFC users for the 6 months pilot). The number of NFC devices to be distributed will be 200 phones (100 SIM Centric + 100 SE Embedded), 500 cards, 800 stickers and 100 USB sticks

The third nominee comes from the US but is nominated for a trail carried out in Spain – NFC SIM-based trial during Mobile World Congress – ITN International (Spain)This was the first major SWP NFC trial, launched at Mobile World Congress, where testers were used to such technology would be sure to put the technology through its paces. A first for SIM based NFC trials, with a concentrated number of trialists for a specific number of days it provided a controlled environment to test out relationships and business models. This was the first implementation of a Single Wire Protocol NFC phone at a live trial with more than 500 users. The phones were SAMSUNG STAR NFC phones provided by Samsung. Each phone was loaded with an NFC payment wallet provided by O2 Telefonica and which incorporated a brand new feature from VISA with low and high value (above 10 Euros) payment capability. Phones were also loaded with a service discovery application, called BCARD Reader, provided by ITN. The wallet had an actual VISA debit card account provided by La Caixa loaded with 75 Euros.

The phones were equipped with SWP SIMs provided by G&D. 40+ contactless terminals from Ingenico were installed at 32 retail locations within the FIRA de Barcelona conference facility. GSMA along with the partners, identified 500 individuals and as part of the experience, we delivered the phones in a branded packaging, to each person. The delivery occurred during the first 2 days of the event at various locations within the event. As part of the training process we showed users how to use the wallet and how to use the BCARD Reader to read and store the MWC badge content into the phone. All users were invited to use the phone to purchase food and drinks and exchange information throughout the event.

There were over 40 readers and 500 phones with an average number of daily transaction per phone of about 5 with 60% below 10 Euros. This deployment used a totally integrated contactless NFC interface both on the phone side and POS terminal side. You can a video about the trial made by C-ITV here.

Our final nominee comes from Germany and it’s a NFC key fob – Sagem Orga (Germany). Why a key fob you ask? Well Sagem Orga say that the NFC key Fob is a way of providing NFC capabilities to a non-NFC handset, by linking to the SIM and is a solution that does not depend on SWP NFC handsets and could potentially bridge the gap whilst waiting for mass deployment.

SIMply NFC Key Fob is a smart mobile accessory powered by Sagem Orga technology. It adds Near Field Communication (NFC) capability to every existing and future mobile phone. The contactless infrastructure is linked to SIMply NFC Key Fob by using the classic ISO14443 technology. The Key Fob is linked to the SIM of the mobile phone through a wireless protocol, hence Sagem Orga have a full link between the contactless infrastructure and the SIM in the handset. Through their innovative architecture, they are very close to the expected SWP model.

According to the several NFC trials they have made, Sagem Orga are convinced that the main drawback of NFC technology is asking the user to change their mobile phone for an NFC one. Sagem Orga believe that people won’t find a strong motivation to do this. This is why the company wants to address the market where users want NFC access but whereby they keep their current handset and add a small accessory. On a usage point of view, there won’t be any difference for the users – they will use their key fob to tap on the NFC terminal (instead of taping the mobile phone itself) and they will still interact with the NFC service from their mobile phone.

On the MNO point of view, they will still use the SIM card as a secure element to host and run the NFC services as required by the GSMA. This NFC bridge is the first one using the SIM of the mobile phone as the secure element. This is optional, but Sagem Orga claim that they can also add a second SIM card in the key fob, this SWP-enabled SIM card will be able to interact with the NFC terminal and run SIM Toolkit services in the SIM card of the mobile phone.

Sagem Orga describe an example, where a user would tap their key fob on a banking terminal, the SWP SIM in the key fob will manage the payment transaction in a secure way and will ask the SIM card of the mobile to display a message to acknowledge the action. Or there is no SWP SIM in the key fob, and everything is managed by the SIM in the mobile phone. Both SIM cards can be managed by OTA through a classic system. This concept is patented, and Sagem Orga have a running proof of concept with several customers asking for pilots and so are going to develop this product in the coming months.

And that’s it – all nine categories in their fullest including the final category; Trailblazing and Innovation. And so, as a final sign off, all that remains is for me to remind you in my customary pedantic fashion that the date is the 29th April. The place is London. And nine lucky companies are going to get a Monkey Award. Fingers crossed, it’s YOURS!