City of Caen to pilot NFC mobile phone payments
The city of Caen in Normandy, France, has begun a six month trial of mobile phone payments and ticketing in a selection of retail stores, car parks, and local tourist attractions using NFC (near field communication) technology, which is a very short-range relative of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology.
With the touch-based mobile phone technology from Royal Philips Electronics, two hundred of the city's residents will use their mobile phones (with an embedded Philips NFC chip) as a means of secure payment in the participating retail stores, parking facilities and tourist sites.
In preparation for the consumer trial, Philips worked with France Telecom R&D, mobile phone network operator Orange, handset manufacturer Samsung, and the popular retailers Groupe LaSer and Vinci Park. Caen is hosting the large-scale trial of NFC technology in order to gather feedback from the mobile operators, retailers and consumers.
Possible applications The range of services and applications for the NFC-enabled Samsung D500 mobile phones being used in Caen includes:
- Retail applications: Groupe LaSer chains (which include Monoprix supermarket and Galeries Lafayette) are equipped with NFC payment terminals, enabling users to pay at the check-out using their NFC-enabled phone. More stores will follow later in the trial, along with a cashless payment scheme in partnership with Cofinoga, the consumer credit arm of Groupe LaSer.
- Car park access: When users wish to enter a car park, they can pass their NFC-enabled phone in front of the entrance booth. The car park ticketing application automatically issues a 'virtual ticket' to their mobile phone and debits the cost from the users' season card or pre-paid account when the phone is later passed in front of the terminal at the car park's exit.
- Tourist services: When an NFC-enabled phone is swiped across the various information points at tourist landmarks in Caen, a phone call or SMS text message will be received, bearing relevant tourist information about the site.
- Active Posters: During the trial, more applications will be added, including the purchase or download of mobile phone content (such as ringtones and wallpaper images) through NFC-enabled posters and advertisements throughout the city.
Smart technology The system used in the Caen trial incorporates secure, over-the-air (OTA) download of applications via a GSM telecoms network, and automatically recognises the appropriate application to launch when an NFC connection is made. In addition to NFC, the Samsung phone also incorporates a Philips smart card chip, enabling users to make payments and use secure banking applications.
According to Christophe Duverne, vice president for Philips Semiconductors and chairman of the NFC Forum, "The great potential of NFC is being illustrated in Caen where consumers can use this touch-based technology to simplify transactions, obtain information, and reduce the amount of time spent in queues. NFC could fundamentally change the way consumers use technology, and the way businesses implement it."
NFC background Jointly developed by Philips and Sony, NFC is a combination of contactless identification and interconnection technologies that enables wireless short-range communication between mobile devices, consumer electronics, PCs and other "smart objects". It offers a simple touch-based solution that allows consumers and businesses to exchange information and to access content and services in a fairly intuitive way. NFC is compatible with Sony's FeliCa card and the broadly established contactless smart card infrastructure based on ISO 14443-A, which is used in Philips' MIFARE technology.