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Mobile operators build momentum behind SIM-based one-tap services

John Worthy


United Kingdom

Mobile operators build momentum behind SIM-based "one-tap'" services

Tech Bytes contents


This article was featured in Tech Bytes, our technology law newsletter.

Forty-five of the world’s leading mobile operators have committed to back Near Field Communications (NFC) services using a SIM-based solution, according to an announcement from the GSM Association – the industry body representing stakeholders in the mobile industries.  The announcement represents a significant push by mobile operators to put the SIM at the heart of mobile contactless services.

NFC technology has the potential to deliver a wide range of "one-tap" services, including mobile payments, mobile ticketing, smart posters, the credit and redemption of loyalty points, special offers and even door keys and car keys.  There are a number of different technical solutions for the delivery of NFC services.  Handsets with embedded NFC technology, as used by Google's mobile wallet, put handset manufacturers at the centre of the model.  Under the SIM-based model, the "Secure Element" (the platform that securely hosts and executes payment applications and the corresponding security credentials) is hosted on the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) or SIM and managed by the mobile network operator.   Payment service providers such as VISA have tended to focus on hosting the secure element on Micro SD cards, removing the need for collaboration with network operators.

The GSM Association also wants to encourage stakeholders to adopt common standards for UICC-based NFC services so that consumers can enjoy those services irrespective of their choice of handset or mobile network.  Building on earlier white papers, and the work of standards body, Global Platform, the GSM Association published on 16 November 2011 specifications and requirements for both handsets and UICCs.

In a further development, the European Payment Council has also recently issued the final version of its interoperability guidelines for mobile contactless payments based on SEPA (Single European Payment Area) cards. The guidelines are the result of a consultation exercise, reported in Tech Bytes earlier this year.

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