ISIS Mobile Wallet / Google Wallet / iPhone Mobile Payment

Yesterday when I was checking out at the Wholefood Market, I was delightfully surprised by their new NFC-enabled reader. At the top of the screen, it said “Swipe/Tap Your Card/Phone”. According to the excited cashier, I was the first one using my phone to pay.

ISIS Mobile Wallet has been available since November 2013. Jamba Juice was chosen as the main promotion partner; a free drink for payment made with ISIS. Jamba Juice was committed to give away one million drinks. For a while, I was having Jamba Juice every day. What a treat!

James D. White, chairman, president and CEO of Jamba Inc., in a company press release, said “Facilitating 1 million transactions through the mobile wallet over the last seven months confirms that the era mobile commerce has arrived. I am proud that Jamba has been able to serve as a leader in the space”.

I appreciate their leadership for this emerging technology.

There are many discussions about Apple’s potential mobile payment and the possibility of an NFC-enabled iPhone 6. I think it might be helpful to describe two approaches to implement an NFC mobile payment. If you want more technical information, please check out the details in this Android page.

I. SIM based Secure Element (SE):

In order to be able to use ISIS mobile payment, you need to get an ISIS SIM card from your service provider. The SIM card includes a Secure Element (SE) that contains your credentials.

When an NFC Reader is tapped by an NFC device, the NFC Controller routes traffic to the SE for authentication.

This approach is very secure because it is difficult to hack the SIM card.

II. Hosted Card Emulation (HCE):

When you use Google Wallet, you don’t need a specific mobile payment SIM. Google wallet uses HCE.

The NFC card is emulated using HCE. When an NFC Reader is tapped by a device, the data is routed to the host CPU. This approach uses the credentials that are stored in a remote server for authentication.

HCE is considered to be a threat to the SIM-based SE and is adopted in various NFC secure applications.

Now the questions is “When iPhone adopts NFC, which mobile payment approach will it choose?

Source of pictures: developer.andriod.comhttps://developer.android.com/guide/topics/connectivity/nfc/hce.html

Frustration over my ISIS enabled iPhone

I am getting a bit tired with my ISIS enabled iPhone. The case added weight to my iPhone. Most of the ISIS transactions didn’t work well. The only good thing is that I am getting free drinks from Jamba Juice until the end of March. Other than card emulation mode, none of the other NFC modes work. I can’t tap an NFC tag or an NFC enabled phone with the case to get the full benefits of NFC.  I think I might switch to an Android phone. Most of the Android smartphones are NFC enabled.

Looking back at the history of NFC’s development, I find the situation kind of ironic.  We had an NFC enthusiast, Google, demonstrate NFC card emulation mode’s value by implementing mobile wallet. Telecoms disabled the capability from the phones because they were developing their own mobile wallet solutions and wanted to control SIM-based NFC. So Google dropped SIM-based NFC, the most direct and secured way to protect security and privacy with Secure Element, and implemented HCE (Host Card Emulation) based mobile wallet. Even though it’s not as secure as a SIM-based solution, the HCE solution is beyond the control of telecoms.

Control provokes innovation by requiring creative solutions to market dominant. History repeats!

On the other end, Apple has been filing patents for NFC communication technology but still hasn’t added NFC capability into their devices. Their blue ocean strategy is to find a market space with no competitors. At the same time, their actions have slowed down the adoption of NFC technology and pushed BLE forward. Apple is also exercising a control with its vast user market. Again, innovation will emerge to escape the control. History will repeat.

NFC Solutions Summit 2014 will be held in Austin, TX on June 2-4. I trust that the NFC ecosystem will demonstrate strength and creativity on mobile wallet solutions through collaboration and innovation. Extreme early discount to purchase a ticket is available until April 2nd. Reserve your seat now!

 

NFC iPhone 4 ISIS Mobile Wallet Experience

Yesterday, I went to an AT&T store to enable ISIS mobile wallet in my iPhone 4. Even though Apple hasn’t added NFC chips into their devices, iPhone cases with NFC chips embedded are sold. There are two different cases available. One is Incipio’s CASHWRAP™ Mobile Wallet Case and the other is Isis Ready® Case. I chose an Isis Ready® Case.

The rep, having enabled her own iPhone 4s for ISIS, was very helpful to assist me. She put a micro SD into the case and provisioned my phone for ISIS payment. I went through a verification process to set up the mobile payment. I chose to use American Express Serve and received $50 credit upon activation. It took some effort (many taps) for the payment reader to recognize an NFC payment, but I was able to apply the $50 credit towards purchasing the case.

Then, I went into Jamba Juice to test out ISIS payment.  Jamba Juice offers free drinks until the end of March when customers use ISIS to pay. People working at the Jamba Juice helped me to use ISIS, though it didn’t work after many tries. They said they got a lot of “not working” ISIS payments, but they still gave away free drinks anyway to honor the offer. I wonder whether AT&T or ISIS keep in touch with the point of sale and collect initial surveys about  ISIS mobile wallet user experiences.

Today, I went to another AT&T store to find out how my ISIS transactions can be improved. Was my iPhone 4 too slow? Was the connection between my iPhone and the case working correctly? Was the particular case broken? The store rep informed me that I needed an ISIS SIM card to communicate with the reader. They installed a new SIM card into my iPhone. I went to anther Jamba Juice shop to test it. This time, it worked on the first try and the store indicated that they had quite a few people coming in with ISIS mobile wallet and that they didn’t have many problems accepting these payments.

It’s good to know ISIS mobile wallet does work for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. I will do more research about the ISIS SIM necessity for iPhone. The NFC cases are also available for iPhone 5. I wonder if we will still need an extra NFC case for iPhone 6. I am sure it’s a question in many people’s mind.

If developers are interested in learning NFC coding, please look into the NFC Forum Spotlight for Developers event happening next Friday March 21st in San Francisco. It’s much better to be prepared to write NFC apps before the technology takes off.

Are you using ISIS Mobile Wallet? What is your experience?

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New iPhones’ Impact on NFC

Today, Apple announced the upcoming release of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. There are descriptions and discussions about the two iPhones to be released. Unfortunately the revelation that neither phone will have NFC capabilities is a disappointment for the NFC ecosystem.

Despite this fact, iPhone Touch ID, a new fingerprint sensor feature for authentication, may have significant implications for the NFC ecosystem. One of the values that NFC provides is security. Common practice is to save sensitive information in the Secure Element (SE).  For example, ISIS, a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, uses this practice for secure mobile payment. With this approach, permission is needed to access SE. Permission is granted after a successful authentication from carriers.

Touch ID has the potential to be utilized as an authentication option for accessing SE. Moreover, Touch ID could limit the need for using UICC/SIM based SE. UICC/SIM based SE is an operator-centric option, since carriers control the access of the UICC/SIM. It provides ultimate security because no one can access it without a carrier’s permission. 

Many stakeholders in the NFC ecosystem want to bypass carriers’ control over SE. Touch ID has the potential to shift our perspectives on security and authentication. What are your thoughts on this possibility?

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TechEd and WWDC reflection

Last week the TechEd North America conference was held in New Orleans and new features for Windows 8.1 were presented. One of these new features is called tap-to-pair printing. When you put an NFC tag on an enterprise network printer, you can tap your Windows 8.1 device within 4 cm of the printer in order to establish connectivity so that you are able to print. There is no need to look for a correct printer on the network. Enterprise printing is made easy! This is a good demonstration of an NFC use case.

This week, iOS 7.0 was announced in Apple’s Developer conference. Nothing was mentioned about NFC. It makes me wonder about Apple’s NFC business strategy. When I attended the App World in London last October, vendors were already making iPhone 4 NFC sleeves in order to test mobile payments. Will the peripheral device becomes a trend for the iPhone, when Apple does not make an NFC enabled device? What are the risks and opportunities for the peripheral device makers that are investing in the NFC iPhone capability?

Yesterday Microsoft released a free app that will enable Office 365 for the iPhone. After the app is downloaded, you need to subscribe to Cloud based Office 365. That’s an up sell for iPhone users to adopt Office 365. It looks like the Microsoft business strategy is to generate revenue from the subscription model and extend the user base beyond the traditional Windows user. Tapping into the iPhone market seems to be a profitable path. Do you think NFC vendors should be committed to step into the similar path and offer iPhone NFC capability?