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Banks Piloting NFC Payment With CredenSE 2.10 microSD

To ensure reliable reads, the CredenSE 2.10 microSD card includes an NFC signal-boosting chip from Austrian IC manufacturer ams, along with a DeviceFidelity-designed 3D miniature antenna.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 18, 2014

Mobile contactless technology company DeviceFidelity reports that several banks or other financial institutions in Europe, Asia, South America, South Africa, the United States and Canada are currently piloting its CredenSE 2.10 microSD memory card, as well as, in some cases, providing the card—which functions as a Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tag—to customers as a permanent deployment of the technology. In addition, DeviceFidelity is in discussions with American Express and Discover regarding the microSD card, and intends to seek certification from those companies in the future.

DeviceFidelity also recently announced that its CredenSE 2.10 microSD card includes an NFC signal-boosting chip from Austrian IC manufacturer ams, along with a DeviceFidelity-designed 3D miniature antenna to ensure reliable reads. Mobile phone or tablet users can simply insert the CredenSE 2.10 into the microSD slot of a handset or tablet PC, download an application and begin operating the device as an NFC-based payment solution, capturing NFC transmissions from contactless point-of-sale (POS) devices and making contactless payments.

DeviceFidelity's CredenSE 2.10 microSD card
The banks' pilot projects involving the CredenSE 2.10 follow rigorous testing by Visa and MasterCard at those companies' own laboratories, as well as those of third-party companies. Visa announced that the CredenSE 2.10 complied with its requirements in September 2013, while MasterCard formally approved the microSD card in November.

The CredenSE 2.10 is designed specifically for mobile payments rather than for other types of NFC transactions, such as downloading data via a smart poster or exchanging information between two NFC-enabled mobile devices.

Most new Android-based smartphone manufacturers are now building NFC readers into their handsets. Those readers, DeviceFidelity notes, are mostly limited to non-secure, non-payment uses, such as capturing advertising data or loyalty points from retailers, rather than for use in mobile payments. That's because a phone service provider or handset manufacturer would need to include the credentials for secure payments with specific banks, and the only available solution at present is the ISIS mobile-payment system—an app resulting from a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and several banks (see Mobile Carriers Launch Venture to Aid Adoption of NFC in Phones). If a user does not have an account at a participating bank, however, he or she cannot make NFC-based Visa or MasterCard credit-card payments. Furthermore, iPhones and iPads, as well as older-model Android products, lack built-in NFC technology, and for those users, even the ISIS-based solution is out of reach.

Thus, says Amitaabh Malhotra, DeviceFidelity's CEO and cofounder, the CredenSE is designed to solve both problems—the absence of an NFC reader in a phone, as well as the inability to make mobile Visa or MasterCard credit-card payments with specific financial institutions using an existing NFC reader. In the first scenario, a consumer with a smartphone or tablet that lacks a built-in NFC reader can simply insert the CredenSE microSD card and begin capturing data from NFC readers at points of sale. In the other instance, if a user does have an NFC-enabled phone, but wishes to utilize the handset to make payments—for example, using a Visa or MasterCard credit card account with a smaller bank or credit union not part of the ISIS program—he or she can acquire the CredenSE card from that bank or retailer.

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