SIM-based NFC gains global support from 45 mobile carriers, all huddled around GSMA's standard

You knew that NFC hardware can be embedded into SIM cards, right? Right? Regardless of whether you've been paying attention, the practice is about to become a whole lot more common, as 45 of the world's largest mobile operators have extended their support for the GSM Association's standard. Among the networks, you'll find heavy hitters such as China Mobile and China Unicom (which account for nearly 800 million subscribers between the two), along with familiar names such as America Movil, AT&T, Deutsche Telecom, KPN, Orange, Rogers, SFR, SK Telecom, Softbank, Telus, Verizon and Vodafone. Even Isis, the unholy mobile payment lovechild of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, has pledged its support... in hopes of taking your money, that is. The new standard is expected to drive the proliferation of NFC across the globe, with Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA commenting, "Mobile operators, working together, are ideally positioned to roll out services based on the requirements published by the GSMA, providing proven security and interoperability, global reach and customer care for consumers and businesses and a secure platform for service providers." Now, as you'd expect, we just wanna see it happen. For a complete list of the cooperating carriers, check out the PR after the break.

[SIM card photo via Shutterstock]

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Mobile NFC Gains Momentum as Operators Worldwide Pledge Support for SIM-Based Solution

China Mobile and China Unicom Join Leading Operators in Backing Mobile NFC; GSMA Publishes Mobile NFC Specifications to Drive Global Interoperability

HONG KONG, Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Mobile Asia Congress -- The GSMA today announced that 45 of the world's leading mobile operators have committed to support and implement SIM-based Near Field Communications (NFC) solutions and services. These operators include China Mobile and China Unicom, which account for nearly 800 million connections throughout China. As an important catalyst in accelerating the adoption of NFC services, the GSMA has published a new set of industry specifications. These handset and SIM specifications will enable the development and global deployment of secure, interoperable and ubiquitous SIM-based mobile NFC services.

In addition to China Mobile and China Unicom, the operators who have committed to SIM-based NFC include: America Movil, AT&T, AVEA, Axiata, AXIS, Bharti Airtel, Bouygues Telecom, CSL, Deutsche Telekom, Elisa Corporation, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC (du), Etisalat, Everything Everywhere, Globe Telecom, KPN, KT Corporation, Maxis, Mobily, MTS, Orange, Proximus, Qtel Group, Rogers Communications, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), SFR, SK Telecom, Smart, SOFTBANK MOBILE, Telecom Italia, Telecom New Zealand, Telecom Slovenije, Telefonica, Telekom Austria Group, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Telus, TMN, Turkcell, Verizon, VimpelCom, VIVA Bahrain and Vodafone Group. Additionally, ISIS, the organisation formed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless to build a nationwide mobile commerce network in the United States, also supports SIM-based NFC.

"Clearly the momentum behind SIM-based NFC is growing rapidly, particularly with leading operators China Mobile and China Unicom supporting NFC services secured by the SIM card," said Franco Bernabe, Chairman of the GSMA, and CEO and Chairman of Telecom Italia Group. "NFC is an important innovation for consumers around the world, and while it is perhaps best known for enabling secure mobile payments, it will also enable a wide range of innovative and exciting new services and applications, such as mobile ticketing, entertainment services, secure access to hotels or cars, loyalty schemes and couponing, among others."

"China Mobile is able to offer SIM-based NFC on an extremely large scale and we have the experience, the technical infrastructure and trusted customer care network to support and effectively stimulate the market," said Sha Yuejia, Executive Director and Vice President of China Mobile.

"China Unicom is known for its innovation and we strongly support SIM-based NFC technology that can ensure contactless services are available to our consumers, and will be interoperable and roam effectively wherever the consumer chooses to go," said Lu Yimin, President and Vice Chairman of China Unicom.

The market potential for SIM-based NFC is significant, according to forecasts from industry research firm Strategy Analytics. Nearly 1.5 billion SIM-based handsets will have been sold worldwide between 2010 and 2016, supporting transactions of more than $50 billion globally over the same period. Further, ABI Research indicates that 85 per cent of all new point of sale terminals shipped in 2016 will be NFC-enabled.

Ensuring Interoperability to Drive Global Adoption

One of the primary factors that will accelerate the proliferation of mobile NFC is the standardisation of the technology, which allows seamless interoperability between NFC devices and enables users to benefit from services around the world, regardless of mobile operator, network or device type. To that end, the GSMA has published handset and SIM requirements which define common handset application programming interfaces (APIs) to support SIM-based NFC services. Standardised requirements will drive economies of scale in SIM, handsets and infrastructure by creating a common framework for implementation and product interoperability.

The handset and SIM requirement documents can be found at:

"With the increasing deployment of commercial SIM-based NFC services in a range of markets worldwide, it is critical to embrace common standards that will promote the global interoperability of services and accelerate time-to-market," commented Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. "Mobile operators, working together, are ideally positioned to roll out services based on the requirements published by the GSMA, providing proven security and interoperability, global reach and customer care for consumers and businesses and a secure platform for service providers."

The GSMA has commissioned a report to take an in-depth view into the socio-economic benefits that the deployment of SIM-based NFC services will enable, and how collaboration between industries can help make this a reality. This report can be found at

GSMA NFC & Mobile Money Summit 2012

The GSMA also announced that it will host the GSMA NFC & Mobile Money Summit in Milan in October 2012. The NFC & Mobile Money Summit will bring together key players from every sector of the industry, providing an environment to forge relationships, expand ideas and foster the growth of NFC and mobile money. Further details will be forthcoming.