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Operators want RFID in phones

GSM Association says your mobile phone would make the perfect credit card, car key and concert ticket but future direction is unclear
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Mobile phones could have moved a step closer to being used as credit cards, car keys and concert tickets, after operators around the world said they would work together on the technology.

The GSM Association (GSMA), which represents operators serving more than 82 percent of the world's phone users, said on Monday that it was pushing for a global standard on near field communications (NFC).

The short-range wireless technology would be based on having a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in the handset, along with some sort of NFC software. As for cost, a GSMA spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Monday that "we don't have a figure for it but we reckon it's a relatively modest cost to add it to the handset".

There could be wide-ranging applications for such technology. "You could have it as a key for your car — it would recognise who you are, open the car door, put the right music on the stereo, that kind of stuff," the spokesperson said. Such a phone could also act in a similar way to Transport for London's Oyster card, itself an NFC device, or as a payment device in shops.

A user could also use the phone to download a concert ticket which would then be recognised by an RFID reader at the venue, suggested the spokesperson, who added that NFC would, in effect, let you "integrate both your wallet and your keys into your mobile phone".

However, the timeframe for phones with integrated NFC remains unclear. The GSMA's spokesperson said the organisation was hoping to submit a white paper on the subject to the NFC Forum and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) by the end of this year. Beyond that, said the spokesperson, "it depends on how fast those particular bodies move".

The GSMA represents operators around the world. The 14 operators working together to develop business cases and user requirements for NFC include Orange, Vodafone and 3.

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