Apple is jumping over the fence of its walled garden and signaling a change in tone as it moves down the path of mobile payments and NFC support.
The company has taken a $30,000-a-year leadership position as a full member of GlobalPlatform, which creates specifications that address standardized infrastructure for securing multiple apps on smart chip technology.
The 15-year-old group includes NFC as a core area of focus. GlobalPlatform specifications are deployed across many vertical industries including finance, mobile/telecom, government, healthcare, retail and transit sectors.
In the group, Apple will rub shoulders with the main partners from its, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. And it will sit next to other partners (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T) and fraternize with smartphone competitors (Blackberry and Samsumg).
It’s a position not all that familiar to Apple, which is adept at controlling an ecosystem around its hardware, software and partners.
The move strikes a positive tone in terms of cooperation among NFC players, recognizing that if the infrastructure is right than vendors can compete on implementation and innovation – two areas where Apple likes to excel.
For example, GlobalPlatform’s Management of Mobile NFC Services specification is debating how service providers can connect and communicate with other actors in the NFC ecosystem.
Apple, however, is not spreading its group dynamic to other organizations. It is not currently a member of the NFC Forum.
At GlobalPlatform, Apple’s full member status gives it freedom to assume leadership positions on boards, committees and working groups. The group’s three technical committees focus on the card, device and systems.
Apple is guarding its innovations, however. Apple Pay’s mechanism for creating tokens is proprietary technology, but once the token is handed off via NFC then Apple is in a standardized environment. The membership in GlobalPlatform will ensure Apple has a say in the development and direction of that underlying infrastructure.
“This level of membership offers Apple the broadest possible opportunity to participate in our organization,” Kevin Gillick, GlobalPlatform’s executive director, told NFC World+.