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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